A Waunakee man was sentenced Friday to one year in jail and five years of probation for sideswiping a motorcyclist at nearly 100 mph outside Lodi a year ago.
Jacob Hellenbrand-Bell, 20, appeared in Columbia County Circuit Court, where he pleaded no contest to charges of felony possession of marijuana as a repeat offense, two counts of misdemeanor bail jumping, and causing injury while operating a vehicle with a controlled substance as a repeated offense.
On April 15, 2017, just before 5 p.m., a Columbia County Sheriff’s sergeant found two motorcycles pulled to the side of the road and a woman being held, lying on the side of the road, in shock with the skin missing from a section of her left leg.
The woman had been riding her motorcycle with a man who told the officer that the two were going north on Highway J, when a southbound Buick LeSabre came at them between 90 and 100 mph. The car began crossing the center line, before sideswiping the woman and continuing down the road. The woman was able to stay on the motorcycle and pull over 200 yards down the road.
The officer reported then speaking to a driver who had been stopped at the intersection of J and V, who had seen a Buick with a flat front driver-side tire going through a stop sign between 30 and 40 mph.
A vehicle matching the same description was spotted by a deputy coming from the area of the crash, pulling into Harmony Mobile Manor trailer park. There deputies spoke with Hellenbrand-Bell and the woman who was in the car with him. Although officers found an opened liquor bottle and marijuana in the car, both said they hadn’t been drinking and had only last smoked the day before.
In court on Friday, the victim stood up to speak.
“I feel this is quite unjust,” she said, pointing to Hellenbrand-Bell’s prior record of previous convictions including a hit-and-run in 2015 and disorderly conduct with a dangerous weapon in 2016. “I feel he is likely to do it again if he is allowed to — he had continued to drive without a license even after my incident.”
The crash happened two miles from her home, she said, meaning she now has to drive over the same road almost every day. She told the court that her calf has healed, but that her leg will never be right again.
“He’s an adult and he should know what’s right and wrong,” she said. “There shouldn’t have been reoccurrences like there were.”
Assistant District Attorney Troy Cross said that although Hellenbrand-Bell avoids prison, he will have a year in jail to think about what happened, followed by five years’ probation, and if he fails to comply with the requirements, would face up to 9½ years of prison.
Despite being advised by his attorney not to speak on the case, given pending civil litigation, Hellenbrand-Bell spoke up.
“I’m sorry for what has been done,” Hellenbrand-Bell said, “and it has given me a wakeup call that there is a lot more in life than drugs and partying. And it’s gotta change sometime, so it might as well be now.”
“Clearly you should have learned that a long time ago,” said Judge Mark Slate, then turning his remarks to the victim. “I’ve had some people in cases like this that try to think of what they could have done differently and I want to make clear that this is in no way your fault. All of the fault is on Mr. Hellenbrand-Bell.”
Hellenbrand-Bell, who has been free on $3,000 cash bond since May 9 is scheduled to begin his jail sentence June 1. On May 24 he is scheduled to appear in Sauk County Circuit Court for a plea and sentencing hearing, charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated as a second offense and operating a vehicle after revocation of a license.