AUSTIN EDITION Austin man dies in car crash

By Amy Olson

A 70-year-old Austin man died Saturday following a traffic crash on Mower County Road 45 southeast of Austin.

Sheriff Barry Simonson said Don Mellem, 405 S. Main St., was found dead in his car about 8:30 p.m. Simonson said Mellem had a history of heart problems and a medical problem might have triggered the crash. Chief Deputy Sheriff Terese Amazi said there were no skid marks found at scene, leading authorities to believe Mellem might have had a heart attack or other medical problem prior to his car leaving the road.

Simonson said an autopsy is expected to be performed, which should give authorities a clearer picture of what happened.


The crash occurred about a quarter mile west of U.S. Highway 218. Mellem's vehicle was found in a drainage ditch on the south side of the road. Amazi said the car had to be removed from muck in the ditch before Mellem's body could be taken out of the car.

Amazi said a jogger spotted the car and called 911.

"You could not see it from the road," Amazi said.

Authorities say there are indications that Mellem survived the crash. It's not known when the accident occurred, but a neighbor reported seeing Mellem leave his house around 3 p.m. The car was not discovered until five hours later. Simonson said deputies found a flag of some sort outside a window, which suggests Mellem might have been alive for a time after the car went into the ditch.

The crash remains under investigation.

What To Read Next
Get Local