What started out as a casual conversation turned deadly early Wednesday, Jan. 1, leaving one Rhinelander man dead and another in need of medical attention.
James R. Tanner, 48, of Rhinelander was pronounced dead at the scene Wednesday at Sackett’s Bar, while John A. Klucarich, 62, of Rhinelander was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital and treated and released for head injuries.
According to Rhinelander Police Chief Mike Steffes, the two men were involved in a conversation Wednesday morning when Tanner struck Klucarich with a closed fist in the facial area causing Klucarich to fall to the ground.
“Mr. Klucarich said it was a friendly conversation and he cannot understand why Mr. Tanner struck him,” Steffes said.
Steffes added the two men had no other previous contact and did not know each other before the incident.
After Tanner struck Klucarich, Gregory C. Dryden, 59, of Rhinelander grabbed Tanner and “directed his upper torso into the wooden bar” according to a press release from the police department.
That caused glasses and drinks to fall to the floor. Dryden then took Tanner to the ground and told the bartender to call 911.
Steffes said contrary to prior reports no one was struck with a bottle or any other object.
“No one was struck with any type of object or weapon,” he said.
Emergency officials arrived at the scene and transported Klucarich to the hospital and put Tanner into an ambulance where he was pronounced dead.
“The ambulance never left the scene,” Steffes said.
The cause of death has not been determined as autopsy results are pending. When the results are in Steffes said all the materials will be forward to the Oneida County District Attorney’s office to review if charges will be filed.
Steffes said the only difference in witness statement’s is in regard to the force in which Tanner was driven into the bar.
“There is varying degrees of how hard Mr. Tanner was directed into the bar,” Steffes said. He added anyone with additional information about the incident should call the police department at 715-365-5300.