A Columbus man is in Dane County Jail charged with hit-and-run--causing great bodily harm in connection to a pedestrian crash on Monday.
Eric L. Schroder, 54, appeared in court on Friday afternoon for a bond hearing, accused of fleeing the scene after he struck a female victim while driving a semi-truck on West North Street in DeForest.
The arrest followed a brief search in which police asked for help from the public in identifying the vehicle and driver involved in the crash.
Police, according to the criminal complaint released Friday, were first dispatched to the scene of the incident on Oct. 11, just before 7 p.m. At the the intersection of North Street and Trailside Drive officers found the victim on her back, unresponsive, on the edge of the roadway.
According to court documents police spoke to witnesses who described the suspect vehicle as likely a large truck driving west. Police were later directed to a local business which owned a truck that matched descriptions and had been driving through the area at that the time of the crash.
Another employee with the same company reportedly called Schroder to ask about a dent and loose headlight, to which, according to the complaint, Schroder said that he had hit a deer the prior afternoon.
When a detective contacted Schroder, on Oct. 12, and said that the issue was that Schroder had hit a person Schroder, according to the complaint, acted surprised, but later said that it was dark, raining, the victim had not been wearing anything reflective, "she was walking in the road," and that when he approached, "it was too late."
Asked why he didn't stop, according to the detective, Schroder said that he was scared, and that on his way home he saw the emergency lights around the scene, another opportunity that Schroder admitted that he could have spoken to police.
The victim was taken to the University of Wisconsin Hospital where she is being treated for injuries including a spinal fracture, a brain bleed, broken leg, fractured ribs, fractured skull, fractured facial bones, as well as internal injuries.
Although Schroder's "initial appearance" was Friday afternoon, he received a hearing the day before in which he received a bond of $2,000 cash. In the subsequent hearing Assistant District Attorney Colleen Lennon requested that bond amount be held. Defense attorney Guy Cardamone requested Schroder be released on a signature bond, noting that the only criminal history was a drug charge in Texas sometime in the '90s.
Lennon emphasized the seriousness of the case, quoting the victim's parents as saying that Schroder "essentially left their daughter on the side of the road to die."
Judge Jason Hanson pointed to the Wisconsin statute of "Marsy's Law," which gives procedural rights and consideration to victims and family members before going outside the state's request, imposing a new cash bond of $5,000.
Schroder is scheduled to next appear in court for an Oct. 21 preliminary hearing. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
As charges were filed by the District Attorney's Office, DeForest Police Chief James Olson released a statement thanking the public for their assistance in the investigation staying, “These types of cases are not solved in a vacuum. The community has played an integral role in this investigation, and we are eternally grateful for their partnership and support.”
Olson went on to say, “While Mr. Schroder is considered innocent until proven guilty, I am thankful for the swift resolution to this case. We continue to pray for the victim and their recovery.”