Randy Salerno: Killed As Passenger on Snowmobile Driven By Intoxicated Driver

Randy Salerno

Randy Salerno, 45, was killed near Eagle River in Sayner, Wisconsin when intoxicated friend and driver Scott D. Hirschey, 44, lost control of Salerno’s snowmobile just before 11:30 p.m. Thursday. Hirschey’s snowmobile had broken down and the two were together on Salerno’s snowmobile because Hirschey claimed he knew the best way back to base camp. The two were riding a snowmobile designed for one person and had lost the trail and just finished crossing Plum Lake near Eagle River, Wisconsin. After crossing the lake, the Ski-doo MX Z snowmobile slid into a tree. Hirschey missed a trail opening at the lake shore and hit a 2 to 3-foot embankment that launched both men 46 feet through the air before colliding with a thick pine tree. Randy Salerno hit the tree full force and suffered fatal chest injuries. Hirschey suffered injuries from a less direct hit.

One of several models of Ski-doo MX Z (not necessarily actual model) designed to tranport only one person.

Randy Salerno was pronounced dead at the scene. Hirschey was flown to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, Wis., where he was in serious but stable condition.

Hirschey agreed to a blood test at 3:21 a.m. Friday, nearly four hours after the crash was reported. Hirschey’s blood alcohol content (B.A.C.) was 0.225 percent. Wisconsin’s legal limit is 0.08 percent.

A B.A.C. of .225 percent is beyond impaired reflexes, impaired reasoning, distorted depth perception, impaired distance acuity, impaired peripheral vision, impaired glare recovery, impaired reaction time, impaired gross motor control, staggering, and slurred speech. A blood alcohol content of .225 percent enters a realm of severe motor impairment, loss of consciousness and memory blackout in some individuals.

So far this season in Wisconsin, there have been 10 snowmobiling fatalities—eight were alcohol-related, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. In the previous three seasons, there have been an average of 33 snowmobile fatalities each year with more than half alcohol-related.

Salerno, a Chicago-area native, worked as co-anchor alongside Roseanne Tellez on Channel 2’s morning news from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. and the 11 a.m. news. He began work at the station in September 2004 after moving from WGN News. His B.A.C. has not been released.