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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Drugs, drinking allegedly preceded double-fatal Royalton crash

One man broke his leg and two others died as a result of an auto accident in Royalton in October 2011. Until recently, Waupaca County officials had not charged anyone with the fatal car accident on State Highway 54, creating an agonizing delay for the victims' families.

Protesters, including victims' relatives, called for police and county prosecutors to speed the process and bring charges against a 23-year-old Mukwonago man for homicide by vehicle. The Waupaca County district attorney's office entered charges in court this month, more than a year-and-a-half after the victims' deaths.

The crash took place on a Saturday afternoon. Responders found a heavily damaged van on the highway and a driver pleading for help from a Chevrolet Monte Carlo in a nearby ditch. Crews extricated the seriously injured van driver, while officers assisted the car driver to escape the wreckage through a window.

The van driver, a 75-year-old Waupaca man, died of abdominal injuries less than a month after the accident.

The Monte Carlo had two passengers, both from Oshkosh. The 21-year-old woman in the front seat suffered severe injuries and died four hours after the crash. The backseat occupant, a 24-year-old man, had a broken leg.

The surviving passenger told investigators that the three were on a reckless, alcohol-and drug-filled journey from Wautoma to Waupaca. The man admitted the trio had stopped for beer, engaged in high-speed driving and smoked marijuana.

Apparently, the last stop was a bar on Royalton Street in Waupaca, where the passenger bought a round of tequila for his friends. The dangerous road play continued as the group left the bar until the car struck the van on State Highway 54.

The Mukwonago man, charged with vehicular homicide and injury while under the influence of marijuana and separate drug charges, has a misdemeanor criminal past. The suspect faces a prison term of up to 25 years if convicted of the newest charges.

No drunk driving charges were brought. A blood alcohol test taken at the time of the crash showed the suspect's BAC was within the state's legal impairment boundaries.

Source: waupacanow.com, "Homicide charges filed for fatal crash," Robert Cloud, May 7, 2012

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