Teen driver could face homicide charge

Nov. 21 crash kills 15-year-old, injures several others

Published On: Dec 06 2012 10:58:02 AM CST   Updated On: Dec 06 2012 07:22:43 PM CST
LANCASTER, Wis. -

A 16-year-old Lancaster girl could be charged as an adult with homicide by negligent use of a motor vehicle after a crash that killed a 15-year-old girl.

The Grant County Sheriff's Office said it is recommending charges against Morgan Hoehne, who was driving the vehicle involved in a crash that killed Makayla Hore and injured three other teens.

The crash occurred on Liberty Ridge Road between County Road E and Hill Road in Liberty Township the afternoon of Nov. 21.

The other passengers were identified as Jena Hore, 17, Nathaniel Tranel, 15, and Kindra Yoose, 14.

Hoehne could also face three counts of reckless driving causing great bodily harm and additional traffic citations. Sheriff's officials said the recommended charges are based on physical evidence and witness statements.

"We've had other crashes in years past with teenagers where they've been seriously hurt doing similar-type behaviors and we want to stay consistent," said Grant County Sheriff Nate Dreckman.

The Sheriff's Office said it has determined that speed was a major factor in the crash.

Dreckman said he believes the teens were "hill jumping," going over roller-coaster type hills at a high rate of speed to catch air.

"I think that's the reason they were out there is to experience that," Dreckman said. "(We believe it was) an inexperienced driver going too fast."

The news is sure to rock the small community of Lancaster and it's high school, where the students involved are just starting to return to class.

"We're trying to keep everybody united, keep everybody together and keep them focused on education and healing," said Mark Uppena, principal at Lancaster High School.

Possible homicide charges against one of the students may not help that, but the school and Sheriff's Office said they hope the incident can bring more awareness to the dangers of hill jumping. They said the practice has been going on in Grant County for years.

"Obviously you hope that through generations people would talk and say, 'This isn't a good idea,'" Dreckman said. "But we know it happens, and are we trying to use this as a deterrent for the future? Yeah, we are."

Sheriff's officials said it's also a reminder of why graduated driver's license rules only allow one other person in the car with a 16-year-old driver. In this case there were five people in the car.

The sheriff said because the incident was traffic-related, authorities had no choice but to recommend charges against Hoehne as an adult. It will be up to the district attorney to make a final charging decision.