Police say a 21-year-old man who was killed Thursday morning in Lake Delton was drunk and lying in the roadway when he was struck by a passing motorist.
The driver of the vehicle faces a homicide charge for being drunk and behind the wheel.
Friends of Wisconsin Dells resident Michael Weatherford told investigators that he was celebrating his 21st birthday and was “extremely intoxicated” when he stumbled into the roadway early that morning.
The friend said he tried pulling Weatherford off the road, but could not. Instead, he began flagging cars to go around his friend. He said the first two cars to pass heeded his signal and went around Weatherford, but a third vehicle, driven by Rigoberto A. Ernantes, did not.
According to a criminal complaint, when police arrived at the scene at about 4:40 a.m., they found two men standing over Weatherford and Ernantes allegedly said, “I can’t believe I hit him.”
Ernantes, a 28-year-old Wisconsin Dells resident, told police he was coming home from a friend’s birthday party, during which he drank eight to 10 beers. Ernantes said he was driving between 43 mph and 45 mph when he spotted two men in the road. He said he didn’t have time to avoid hitting Weatherford, the complaint states. The speed limit on county Highway A in the area is 35 mph.
During an initial appearance in court Monday via video link from the Sauk County jail, Ernantes was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail. He faces charges of homicide by drunken driving and causing a death while driving with a suspended driver’s license — both felonies.
If convicted, he faces up to 31 years in prison and a $110,000 fine.
Despite the cash bail, Ernantes also is being held on an order issued by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
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Editor's note: An earlier version of this report was corrected to reflect an error that was made in the initial report regarding how the victim was dressed.