Truck driver charged with reckless homicide for 2017 crash
A 54-year-old Neillsville man whom authorities allege was on his cell phone shortly before causing a fatal accident near Granton in July 2017 was charged last week with one count of second-degree reckless homicide and five counts of first- or second-degree recklessly endangering safety. Roger Waltemate is scheduled to make his first court appearance on the charges this Friday.
The reckless homicide charge is for the death of 47-year-old Anthony Phipps of Granton, who was in a car stopped at a construction zone when it and others were struck from behind by a semi-tractor/trailer driven by Waltemate. The crash occured on U.S. Highway 10 near Meridian Avenue just east of Granton.
The criminal complaint filed against Waltemate more than a year-and-a-half after the crash alleges he was distracted by his cell phone and did not attempt to apply his truck brakes before he plowed into the back of a short line of cars that were stopped by a flag man at a highway work zone. An accident reconstructionist estimated Waltemate’s truck was traveling between 56-61 mph when it made contact with the vehicles, and “that there were no visible pre-impact tire marks created by the semi.”
The crash happened shortly after noon on July 10, 2017. Four eastbound vehicles were stopped for the flag man’s signal when Waltemate’s truck/trailer approached from behind. Witnesses said the driver of a semi-truck waiting for the flag man saw Waltemate’s vehicle coming and took evasive action to avoid being hit.
Phipps’ Jeep was the last of the four vehicles in the line. Waltemate’s truck struck the Jeep first, pushing it about 50 feet into the north ditch. Waltemate’s truck then struck a van that was parked ahead of Phipps’ Jeep, pushing the van into a passenger car occupied by a pregnant woman and her 10-year-old son. They sustained minor injuries.
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