Man gets prison time for 2017 snowmobile crash



The late Robert Kurz’ family doesn’t see a need for his former best friend to spend time in prison for the Feb. 12, 2017 snowmobile accident that ended Kurz’ life abruptly at age 34. The judge in Steven Lauenstein’s criminal case sees things differently.
Portage County Circuit Court Robert Shannon — appointed to the case after Lauenstein requested a substitute for Clark County Judge Jon Counsell — acknowledged Kurz’ family’s plea for leniency at a July 27 sentencing hearing in Neillsville, but then went ahead and sent Lauenstein to prison for three years, with a 5-year period of extended supervision to follow. Lauenstein’s past behavior is too troublesome to ignore, Shannon said, and to allow him to walk without prison time for operating a snowmobile while intoxicated and causing Kurz’ death would minimize the actions.
The 47-year-old Lauenstein and Kurz were out snowmobiling on the night of Feb. 12, 2017, and stopped at a rural tavern near Spencer for drinks. As they prepared to leave after midnight, police reports state, Kurz’ sled would not start. He then boarded Lauenstein’s snowmobile to ride home with his friend.

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