A UW-Whitewater student died in Milwaukee on Friday after Milwaukee police say a homicide suspect being pursued by U.S. marshals ran a red light and struck her vehicle, also killing the man she was with.
Maria Buhler, 20, originally of Sheboygan Falls, suffered “fatal injuries” from the crash reported to Milwaukee police at about 9:32 a.m. Friday, according to a news release.
Joseph Badora, 23, was driving the car with Buhler as a passenger. He died Saturday after being taken to a hospital in critical condition after the crash, Milwaukee police said.
Karen Domagalski, operations manager at the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, said in an email Wednesday that both Buhler and Badora were wearing seat belts. The airbags deployed, she said.
The driver of the other vehicle, Donald Lee Cooper Jr., was wanted by authorities on a homicide warrant from Minot, North Dakota, the release states. U.S. marshals were pursuing him when he drove through a red light at 51st and Center streets.
Cooper, 27, was charged Monday in Milwaukee County Court with two counts each of second-degree reckless homicide, fleeing an officer resulting in death and operating while suspended, causing death.
Police were surveilling Cooper and following him in Milwaukee on April 3, according to the criminal complaint. A deputy saw Cooper driving a blue Mercury Grand Marquis.
Cooper did not stop when the deputy tried to pull him over, the complaint states. The pursuit went for several miles and reached speeds as high as 90 mph.
Cooper eventually struck the 2015 Honda Civic that Badora was driving at an estimated speed of more than 70 mph, according to the complaint. Cooper then got out of his car and tried to run away on foot, but police caught him.
Police spoke to Cooper, who said he did not want to turn himself in and get locked up, the complaint states.
Court records list a Milwaukee address for Cooper.
The university directory listed Buhler as a junior studying marketing.
Buhler’s family will hold private services with plans to hold a public service later once gathering restrictions in place to combat COVID-19 are lifted, according to a university announcement. The university said it will share those details at another time.
UW-W encouraged those who are struggling to access counselors via phone. Students can call University Health and Counseling Services and make an appointment at 262-472-1305, while faculty and staff can call the employee assistance program at 866-274-4723.
The announcement said Buhler was a “dedicated student” who “was actively involved in the Greek community at UW-Whitewater.”
The Tri Sigma sorority at UW-W posted on Instagram on Sunday afternoon, sharing its condolences.
“Tri Sigma is deeply saddened over the loss of our sister and dear friend, Maria Buhler,” the post states. “She will be remembered for her kindness and being an amazing friend to all.”
Update: This story was updated at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday with details from the university announcement.