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Prosecutor: Driver in fatal crash near Sun Prairie to be charged with homicide

Prosecutor: Driver in fatal crash near Sun Prairie to be charged with homicide


A man who was arrested Sunday after a crash near Sun Prairie that killed one person and injured another had a preliminary blood alcohol level of about 1½ times the legal limit for drivers, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Nicholas J. Hanley, 46, of Sun Prairie, will likely be charged by Friday with homicide by drunken driving, Assistant District Attorney William Brown said during a court appearance by Hanley. He said that a breath test found Hanley’s blood alcohol concentration to be nearly 0.12 percent, well above the 0.08 limit for drivers in Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the driver struck and killed in the crash as Kevin G. Sylve, 60, of Sun Prairie. A passenger in Sylve’s car was taken by Med Flight helicopter to UW Hospital.

Hanley was ordered jailed on $35,000 bail and will return to court on Friday for an initial appearance on expected formal charges. If he posts the bail he would come to court on Monday.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday that Hanley was traveling behind a Toyota Camry in a GMC Sierra, both headed east on Highway T, when Hanley tried to pass the Camry just as it was turning into a driveway near Betlach Road in the town of Sun Prairie. The Sierra struck the Camry on the driver’s side.

“When police approached (Hanley) he initially lied and said he hadn’t been drinking,” Brown said in court, “then said he had the two beers that everyone always seems to have when they get involved in police investigating them. He spectacularly failed the (horizontal gaze nystagmus test) and the heel-to-toe and walk-and-turn and ultimately did submit to a blood test.”

Brown said this would be Hanley’s fourth drunken driving offense. He had drunken driving convictions in 1993 and 2003, but because they were 10 years apart, both were considered first offenses under state law. Hanley was convicted of his third offense in 2006, Brown said.

Hanley’s lawyer, William Ginsberg, said the $50,000 bail that Brown sought wasn’t necessary because Hanley, a family man and business owner, will come to court. Even the most recent drunken driving offense against him is about a dozen years old, he said.

“It’s tragic that somebody passed away last weekend as a result of this accident,” Ginsberg said, “but we’re only here to determine Mr. Hanley’s likelihood of appearing in court.”

Along with $35,000 bail, Court Commissioner Brian Asmus ordered that Hanley not drive at all if he is released from jail, and that he not drink alcohol or be at any place where the primary business is selling alcohol, among other conditions.

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