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Madison area woman charged in crash that killed public media director Purcell



A Madison area woman has been charged with negligent homicide in the traffic death of former La Crosse broadcaster Gene Purcell, the director of Wisconsin Public Media.

Shawnicia Youmas of Fitchburg was charged this week with striking Purcell’s motorcycle at close to 65 miles an hour on the south Madison beltline last July.  The speed limit on that road was 30 mph.

Youmas says Purcell was swerving, and cut in front of her, but traffic cameras have showed Purcell traveling normally. 

Purcell was 61 when he died days after the collision. 

Before becoming director of the state public radio and TV networks, he had been a staffer and manager at WLSU public radio on the UWL campus, and was a graduate of the local university.

Youmas is a former Fitchburg City Council candidate.


A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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