Farmer seeking $2,000 for crop damage

Landowner shocked that man who claimed he swerved to avoid animal drove through planted field

DEEP RUTS caused by a sport utility vehicle that went off the road last month damaged a planted field farmed by Vince Thill in the Town of Fredonia. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press Staff

A Town of Fredonia man is seeking more than $2,000 in damages after some of his winter wheat was wrecked by a Town of Belgium man last month.

Vince Thill, who lives in the 2900  block of Highway K, said he returned home on April 21 and was upset to learn that someone had drove through one of his fields.

A 45-year-old Town of Belgium man who lives in the 7100 block of Highway K had driven his 1980s Chevrolet Blazer through one of Thill’s fields, tearing up some of the crops, according to a Sheriff’s Office report.

“I wasn’t the happiest camper, believe me,” Thill said. “Some places he went down a foot to a foot and a half and he kept spinning the wheels and moving along.”

“If I had to drive in there with a tractor, I bet I would have gotten stuck.”

Neighbors who witnessed the vehicle driving through the field notified the Sheriff’s Office. When a deputy visited the suspect’s home, the man admitted to driving through the field, the report stated.

The man told the deputy he was trying to sell the vehicle, which was mainly used for plowing, and wanted to check the brakes. While driving down Highway K, he said a small animal ran out in front of him and he swerved into the field to miss it. He drove around the field because he was afraid the vehicle would get stuck before finding a way out, according to the report.

The deputy said he did not believe the man swerved to miss an animal since evidence suggested the vehicle stopped and made a 90-degree turn to enter the field. A 30 or 45-degree turn would have been typical to avoid an animal, the report stated.

The man told the deputy he didn’t plan to rut up the field and he was only trying to look for a way out without getting stuck and having to be towed, according to the report.

The deputy noted the field had high ground within the first 500 feet of where the man entered, which would have allowed him to exit at the same place. Instead, he drove around for about 1,200 feet. The deputy told the man the damages to the field cost more than a tow truck.

The man said the vehicle is not insured.

He was issued a $162.50 citation for trespassing.

Thill filled out a property crime restitution form that has estimated damages at $2,100. Thill said if he doesn’t receive restitution, he would have to take the man to small claims court.

Thill said he estimated one to two acres of the 120-acre field to be destroyed.

He said he does not know the man.

“Nobody can believe what he did to me. There’s just no excuse for this,” Thill said. “All his neighbors get along. I get along with everybody. To have him do this to me. Too bad what the world is coming to.”

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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