Marshall teen killed while heading to fair to auction off steer

John Oncken
Ben Chadwick was known as an "outgoing, live life to the fullest, young man.”  The 16 year old died on July 2 while driving to the Stoughton Fair where he was to auction off his steer.

Ben Chadwick, a 16 year old sophomore at Marshall High School was on his way to the Stoughton Fair early Friday morning (July 2) where he would be preparing his steer for the meat animal auction on Saturday. The animal had been crowned reserve champion steer in the open class beef competition on Thursday. 

But, he didn’t make it. Like all of us my have done, at one time or another, he apparently eased through a stop sign on a country road without seeing an oncoming vehicle and was T-boned by a pickup truck. 

 Dane County Sheriff’s Lt. Ira Simpson said the preliminary investigation indicates a Chevy Impala driven by Chadwick, with three occupants, was traveling westbound on West Medina Road, when the Impala failed to stop at the stop sign. Simpson said the car was struck by a Ford F-250, which was traveling northbound on Ridge Road.

The driver of the sedan (Chadwick) was pinned in his vehicle and required extrication by Sun Prairie Fire units and died at the scene  The two other passengers in the Impala and the driver/sole occupant of the F-250 were uninjured.  All parties involved were wearing seat belts, according to Simpson.

Just hours after the accident, the Stoughton Fair announced it would be auctioning the steer Chadwick had shown at the fair the day prior in the Saturday Meat Animal  Auction with proceeds going to his family.

Chadwick's steer was led into the auction ring by his siblings, Breanna and Jacob, before a standing room only crowd.

Chadwick’s steer was auctioned twice – the first time a top price of $14/lb. was bid by Mid-State Equipment, where Ben’s father, John, is employed.  Mid-State then told the auction officials to ‘Sell it again.’ The second winning bid of $10/lb. was put forward by Elizabeth Rake, a family friend and former fair exhibitor.

Once the steer was auctioned, the Stoughton Fair accepted donations through a paddle sale with more than $80,000 collected and given to the Chadwick family on Saturday to help cover funeral expenses.  

A memorial display featuring Ben Chadwick and his activities in the Marshall FFA was viewed by many of the attendees at the Wisconsin FFA convention at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison the next week.

Ben had just finished his sophomore year at Marshall High School, where he was active in FFA and was the chapter Reporter. He also exhibited cattle at local shows including the Stoughton, Lodi, and Dane County fairs. 

A memorial display honoring Ben Chadwick and his involvment in the Marshall FFA is was on display at Wisconsin FFA Convention.  Chadwick was going to serve as president of the Marshall FFA Chapter this coming school year.

I talked with Paula Bakken, the AgriScience and FFA Advisor at Marshall High School who knew Ben well. 

“Ben Chadwick was an outgoing, live life to the fullest, young man,” Bakken says. “He was an active member of the FFA where he served as a chapter leader, serving as reporter last year,  and elected president for the coming year."

Bakken said in FFA, Ben especially enjoyed events where he could share his love of animals and agriculture with others, particularly with kids. He also enjoyed FFA events where he could meet other members from around the state.

“He loved meeting people no matter where he went, whether that was an FFA event, a cattle show, a track meet, or watching a softball game,” Bakken continued. “He was passionate about – and very proud of – his cattle herd. He worked to make breeding and management decisions and to network with other leaders in the cattle industry to learn all that he could about showing and preparing his cattle."

Bakken said Ben's enthusiasm, contagious smile, friendly personality, sincere concern for others, and sassy humor will be greatly missed.”

Ben is survived by his parents John and Tiffany Chadwick; sister Breanna, brother Jacob; Grandparents David and Lillian Chadwick and Charles and Anna Maenner (well known for their work with Wisconsin Farm Tech Days exhibitors) and relatives and friends.

Funeral services were held July 6 at Marshall High School.