Tickets issued in fatal crash

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Mike DuPre'
Friday, May 30, 2008
— Witnesses told police the driver who survived a two-car crash that killed a Janesville woman in September was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, and at least one witness said the driver appeared to be racing with another car.

Another witness recalled telling her son that the driver would kill someone.

Darren L. Miller, 21, of 117 N. Willard Ave., Janesville, was not charged with a crime in the crash that killed Marguerite A. Bladorn, 49, of 4244 Valencia Drive, and hospitalized her 12-year-old daughter.

But Janesville police ticketed him Tuesday for speeding and for endangering safety by reckless driving.

In Miller’s case, reckless driving is a traffic ticket punishable by a $375 fine because it is the first such charge levied against him. Online court records show that he has been found guilty of speeding, unreasonable speed and inattentive driving.

Capt. Dan Davis said police decided to cite Miller based on witness observations, an accident reconstruction that put Miller’s speed at 55 to 62 mph in a 35-mph zone and the opinion of an independent lawyer consulted by the city attorney.

Rock County District Attorney David O’Leary decided in April not to file criminal charges against Miller because the accident reconstruction by the Wisconsin State Patrol found that Bladorn was partially at fault by failing to yield the right of way from a stop sign while turning left.

Miller was driving east on Milwaukee Street at 7:38 a.m. Sept. 12 when his Cadillac Eldorado “T-boned” Bladorn’s Toyota Camry.

To charge homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, prosecutors must prove a defendant caused the death of another person by the negligent use of a vehicle. Criminal negligence is defined as “ordinary negligence to a high degree,” O’Leary said in a press release explaining his decision.

Because the state patrol concluded both parties contributed to the crash, the prosecution cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either party was criminally negligent, O’Leary said in his release.

Witnesses gave varying opinions of Miller’s speed—from 75 mph to the flow of other traffic—but the accident reconstruction by state trooper William Ryan reads:

“The speed of the Cadillac was conservatively calculated to be 55-62 miles per hour at impact.”

Ryan found no evidence that Miller braked before the crash and said the sun could have interfered with his vision.

Miller told officers he and another driver, Kyle Eicksteadt, were jockeying back and forth between two eastbound lanes, taking turns passing one another, slowing down and talking back and forth.

Miller and Eicksteadt told police they were driving 40 to 45 mph. Eicksteadt said Miller was driving “40 to 50 miles per hour tops,” according to police reports.

One witness estimated their speed at between 45 and 50 mph. She said she saw them weaving in and out of traffic and that it appeared they were racing.

Eicksteadt was not ticketed, Davis said, because his vehicle was not involved in an accident, so there was no accident reconstruction to determine his speed.

Another witness said Miller and Eicksteadt were revving their engines as they sat next to each other at a traffic light.

A third witness told officers her son saw Miller’s car and said it would cause an accident, to which she replied that the driver was going to kill someone.

Last updated: 9:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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