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Driver charged in frightening Ironman triathlon driving incident

By Tony Galli

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    MADISON, Wisconsin (WKOW) — A Madison man was charged with a felony crime and appeared in court after authorities said he drove through street barricades and endangered Ironman triathlon athletes, spectators, volunteers and others.

Devinn Taufner, 23, was present Thursday for an initial appearance on the charge of second degree recklessly endangering safety.

A video from a dash-camera in Taufner’s black Acura sedan shows his car barreling through street barricades, ignoring police officer commands and at one point driving what authorities said was fifty miles an hour as participants in the Marathon portion of the race run close-by.

The video was first shown by the Wisconsin State Journal and then provided to 27 News. A request by 27 News to Madison Police for the video has yet to satisfied.

Jean Tretow-Schmitz said she was waiting in downtown Madison on the Ironman route to cheer on a family member who was in the race when she saw the car crash through a barricade right near her.

“I’m thinking, someone’s going to get killed,” Tretow-Schmitz said.

Video shows Taufner driving to the parking garage of his downtown residence, which his attorney said is an assisted living facility. Before his arrest there, Taufner blurts out on video, “I just want to go home, man.”

Assistant Dane County District Attorney Jacki Frank said Taufner’s bail should be $5,000 given the danger to the community he represents. Frank said those connected to the Ironman near Taufner’s driving were petrified and thought would become a part of an incident akin to a man’s deadly drive into the 2021 Waukesha Parade. Six people were killed at the parade.

But attorney Teuta Jonuzi said there’s a context to Taufner’s actions.

“He is someone on the autism spectrum disorder,” Jonuzi said.

Jonuzi said Taufner’s difficulty in reaching his home because of the road closures was disorienting and frustrating for him. On video before driving through barricades, Taufner responds to an officer’s attempt to suggest alternate routes to him.

“You didn’t give me any (expletive) options,” Taufner said.

Court records state Taufner was crying and apologetic after his arrest.

Court Commissioner Scott McAndrew released Taufner on his signature, saying he had no significant concern Taufner would repeat his actions. McAndrew barred Taufner from driving as part of bail.

“I want to have compassion on the driver,” Tretow-Schmitz said. But she said it must be balanced with the threat Taufner’s decision-making posed.

The incident took place several hours into the event involving a swim, bike ride and marathon-distance run.

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