Janesville surgeon charged in fatal crash in New Zealand - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Janesville surgeon charged in fatal crash in New Zealand

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Courtesy: Martin De Ruyter/Fairfax NZ Courtesy: Martin De Ruyter/Fairfax NZ
Courtesy: Martin De Ruyter/Fairfax NZ Courtesy: Martin De Ruyter/Fairfax NZ
Dr. Kenneth Wolnak/Mercy Health System Dr. Kenneth Wolnak/Mercy Health System

NEW ZEALAND (WKOW) -  A Janesville heart surgeon has been criminally charged in a crash in New Zealand that killed two people.

The Nelson Mail in New Zealand reports Dr. Kenneth Wolnak was driving a rental car last month when he made a U-turn in front of a truck carrying scaffolding.  Two other cars were involved in the crash.  In addition to the two, fatal victims, four other people were hurt.

Wolnak is charged with two counts of careless driving causing death and four counts of careless driving causing injury.
 

"Dr. Wolnak has worked at Mercyhealth for 15 years and has been an excellent physician who is very well-liked by his patients, peers and the community,"  Mercyhealth Medical Director Dr. Mark Goelzer says in a statement.

"Dr. Wolnak is currently on leave.  During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wolnak family and for the others involved."

"I'm not sure I'd be here, if it wasn't for him,"  says Kevin Punzel of Janesville.  Punzel says Wolnak operated on him twice in the past five years, including a heart by-pass procedure in August.

The New Zealand newspaper reports while Wolnak is free on bail, he was forced to surrender his passport. 

"I know it's sad that two people lost their lives out there,"  Punzel says.  "For how many lives he's probably saved - it's kind of sad."

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UPDATE (WKOW) -- Mercy Health System has released a statement regarding Dr. Kenneth Wolnak.

"Dr. Wolnak has worked at Mercyhealth for 15 years and has been an excellent physician who is very well-liked by his patients, peers and the community. Dr. Wolnak is currently on leave. During this difficult time, our thoughts and prayers go out to the Wolnak family and the others involved.”

Dr. Mark Goelzer 

Mercyhealth Medical Director

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NELSON, NEW ZEALAND (WKOW) -- A Janesville heart surgeon has been charged in a crash in New Zealand that killed two people.

Dr. Kenneth Wolnak has worked at Mercy Health System for 15 years, but the medical director tells the Janesville Gazette he's on leave right now.

The Nelson Mail in New Zealand reports he was driving a rental car last month when he made a U-turn in front of a truck carrying scaffolding. Two other cars were involved in the crash and two people in each were killed. Four other people were hurt.

Wolnak is charged with two counts of careless driving causing death and four counts of careless driving causing injury. 

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