‘This could’ve been prevented’: Authorities recommend reckless homicide charges for Madison man in crash that killed 3 teens

MADISON, Wis. — Authorities are recommending several second-degree reckless homicide charges for a Madison man involved in a deadly crash that killed three high school students on Oct. 2.

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office identified the driver Tuesday as 30-year-old Eric N. Mehring. DCSO authorities said they’re recommending he be charged with three counts on each of following charges: second-degree reckless homicide, homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, and homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Authorities also recommended one count of second-degree recklessly endangering safety.

DCSO authorities said they believe Mehring was drunk at the time of the crash and was driving at a high speed. Mehring was hospitalized after the crash and has not yet been medically cleared.

The three teens — Simon Bilessi, Jack Miller and Evan Kratochwill — died after Mehring crashed into the students’ vehicle on West Mineral Point Road. Bilessi was a senior at Madison West High School, and Miller and Kratochwill were seniors at Middleton High School.

“On a human level, this affects us all,” Dane County Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said. “Seeing the pictures and following the mourning of the community for the lives lost, the three young lives lost hits us all.”

Crash reconstructionists are still working on their investigation. Barrett said his detectives feel they have a strong case.

“This could’ve been prevented. There was a combination of not only alcohol, but a high rate of speed,” he said. “We have to realize that our actions affect not just ourselves, but our entire community.”

The District Attorney’s office will ultimately consider the recommended charges.

RELATED: ‘An unspeakable tragedy’: School identifies 3 teens killed in Middleton crash

News of the tragic crash came just days before Homecoming Week at Middleton High School. School officials said they planned to have the Spirit Night activities, football game and homecoming dance go on as planned to give the students the chance to support each other as a community.

Students, staff and community members have shared statements in the wake of the tragic crash saying the Bilessi, Miller and Kratochwill were “bright lights” in the community.

RELATED: In their own words: Close friends of students killed in car crash describe amazing friends, teammates

Last Tuesday night, during Madison West’s first soccer match since the crash, Bilessi’s former teammates dedicated the game to their former captain. Bilessi also regularly volunteered with One City School’s soccer program.

Miller was a dedicated athlete at Middleton High. He was the soccer team’s goalkeeper and played club hockey. He was also involved in student council.

Kratochwill was a member of the Middleton High cross country team. During a race just days after the tragic accident, Kratochwill’s team ran alongside each other in a show of solidarity with their former teammate.

RELATED: ‘We ran for Evan’: Middleton Cross Country team crosses finish line together as tribute to late teammate

A GoFundMe set up to pay the funeral and burial costs for the three students has now reached over $100,000, far over its original $15,000 goal, as families, businesses, and organizations step forward to cover the costs of the tragedy.