Report: Janesville heart surgeon charged after double-fatal crash

Report: Janesville heart surgeon charged after double-fatal crash
Kenneth Wolnak

A heart surgeon at a Janesville medical facility is facing charges in New Zealand after a crash that killed two people, according to the Janesville Gazette and media reports from New Zealand.

A statement from Mercyhealth provided to the Gazette said Dr. Kenneth Wolnak is on leave. He’s worked for Mercyhealth for 15 years.

Wolnak, 63, and a 60-year-old woman traveling with him were among four injured in the accident near Nelson, New Zealand, on Feb. 28, according to press reports. Wolnak was driving a rental car at the time. The other vehicles were a four-wheel-drive vehicle, a truck and an RV.

Kevin Gerard Whitburn, 69, of Christchurch and Stephen Anthony Jayes, 41, a father of two from Nelson, died at the scene, according to reports. Wolnak was released from the hospital March 2. The woman with Wolnak and two men in the truck, ages 19 and 28, were reported on March 1 to be in stable condition.

Wolnak was charged last week with two counts of careless driving causing death and four counts of careless driving causing injury, and he had surrendered his passport, according to press reports.

Police allege Wolnak made a U-turn in front of a truck carrying scaffolding.

Wolnak was scheduled to appear in Nelson District Court on Tuesday, according to the Gazette.