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Truck in pond

Racine firefighters work to extricate Jeff Ingle from a sunken pickup truck Dec. 11 at the pond at the High Ridge Centre shopping center. He was later pronounced dead. Autopsy results indicate a remote cerebral infarction — a brain blockage that would have made the driver unable to control his actions — likely led to the crash. 

RACINE — The Dec. 11 fatality after a crash into a pond along Highway 31 near the High Ridge Centre shopping center was likely caused in part by a blockage in the driver’s brain, leading the driver to lose control, according to an autopsy report.

It happened on a cold, slippery night, in a pond just outside the Home Depot and Toys “R” Us stores.

The autopsy report, which the Racine County Medical Examiner’s Office received Monday, confirmed that Jeff Ingle, 46, of Sturtevant died from drowning. There also were findings of a remote cerebral infarction, which is a blockage in the brain that would have led Ingle to have a seizure or become unconscious and unable to control his actions, according to Racine County Medical Examiner Michael Payne.

Neither alcohol nor drugs were a factor.

In the days after Ingle’s death, his family speculated that a seizure could have contributed to his death, causing him to lose control and drive into the pond.

“It was pretty much what we expected,” John Ingle, Jeff’s father, said of the autopsy results.

Jeff Ingle had a stroke in 2009 that forced him to leave his job as a maintenance mechanic at Racine Heat Treating, according to his family. For a time he was subject to seizures, but he hadn’t had one since 2011 and was on medication to manage the condition.

Payne said the cerebral infarction likely led him to lose control, according to the autopsy report he received Monday.

Several factors led to the wait for the report, Payne said. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office conducts autopsies for Racine County and it has an extensive caseload, particularly with the number of opioid deaths it deals with, Payne said. Also, it takes time to analyze the brain to find evidence of something like a cerebral infarction, Payne said.

John Ingle said he hopes to see a barrier erected around the pond to keep vehicles on Highway 31 (South Green Bay Road) and in nearby business parking lots from crashing into the water.

“If there was a barrier up there, he would have survived,” John Ingle said.

Caitlin Sievers contributed to this report.

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Managing Editor

Stephanie Jones is the managing editor for The Journal Times. She was previously the city reporter, government reporter, and police reporter. She grew up north of Green Bay and enjoys spending time in the community with her family.