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Onalaska man faces third OWI in hit-and-run of teen bicyclist, authorities say

Onalaska man faces third OWI in hit-and-run of teen bicyclist, authorities say

Robert Karaffa


An Onalaska man was arrested for drunken driving Friday after hitting a 15-year-old bicyclist with his car and leaving the scene of the crash, according to the court records.

Robert A. Karaffa, 49, was charged Monday in La Crosse County Circuit Court with injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, hit-and-run causing injury, third-offense operating a motor vehicle while under the influence and third-offense operating a motor vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration.

The teen girl and her mother were riding their bicycles at 5:12 p.m. Friday near Hwy. 53 and Sand Lake Road in Onalaska, when Karaffa, driving a gray SUV, slowed to let the woman cross the street, according to the complaint. The woman told police she made it across the intersection before hearing her daughter scream. She turned around to see the teen on the ground and the SUV headed south on Sand Lake Road.

According to the complaint, officers arrived to find the girl on the ground with black tire tracks on her left leg, as well as several lacerations and a large indentation.

A witness to the crash stopped to help the girl, and a second witness followed the SUV and called police once Karaffa stopped at his apartment complex, according to the complaint.

Onalaska police say Karaffa had trouble keeping his balance while walking, had red, glassy eyes, had soiled his pants and smelled strongly of alcohol, according to the report.

Karaffa was released on a $10,000 signature bond ordered by Judge Gloria Doyle and is expected to appear in court July 16.

He was previously convicted of drunken driving in 1999 and 2002.

Jourdan Vian can be reached at or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

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