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Open house remembers Sauk County sheriff's sergeant killed 30 years ago

BARABOO, WI (WTAQ) - An open house took place in Baraboo Tuesday to remember a Sauk County sheriff's sergeant killed in a helicopter crash 30 years ago.  

Stuart Searles was responding to the tornado which virtually destroyed nearby Barneveld. He had just dropped off former Governor Tony Earl, so he could assess the tornado damage.

Searles then flew up to Merrimac to pick up the county sheriff when his chopper started on fire. WKOW-TV of Madison said the pilot was frantically trying to put out the flames -- and he was planning to crash land the helicopter in the Wisconsin River so nobody else would be hurt.  

But the chopper did not get that far. It crashed in a field near Merrimac.

Sauk County lieutenant Terry Spencer said almost his entire department was playing in a law enforcement softball tournament that day. He said Searles' death was never forgotten, and he and his fellow officers could never really heal from it.

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)