Charge dropped in fatal pedestrian collision

Complaint: Man admitted to using narcotic pain reliever
Charge dropped in fatal pedestrian collision

A charge against a 33-year-old Portage man accused of killing a pedestrian in Madison while driving under the influence of a narcotic pain reliever has been dismissed, according to online court records.

Jonathan J. Rehdantz was charged with homicide by negligent use of a vehicle in connection with the crash in September 2011. Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne told News 3 the charges were dismissed because the judge ruled that the methadone evidence was not admissible and they decided they didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute the case.

The defense maintained the drug had only been in his system for seven minutes, not the 45 minutes their experts were prepared to tell the court it would take to have an effect on the body. Rehdantz said he was driving when Campbell, who had several impairments, which made walking difficult for her, fell in the street.

“But he wasn’t speeding,” said defense attorney Mark Eisenburg. We had an expert testify he was going 12-15 miles per hour. He felt terrible about the lady. But he really didn’t think he’d done anything wrong other than, it was a traffic accident.”

Police said Rehdantz was turning left from outbound East Washington Avenue onto Highway 51 when his vehicle struck Mary Campbell. A witness told investigators that Campbell didn’t start crossing until she had a cross light.

Campbell, 61, later died at University of Wisconsin Hospital from her injuries.

According to information provided in the criminal complaint, Rehdantz told police after his arrest that he “was on methadone and that he had taken his last dose approximately 20 minutes earlier.” He also said that he saw Campbell on the turn median, she took two steps out into his traffic lane and he “could not avoid hitting her.”

Campbell, an abuse survivor, had moved to Madison in 2001, estranged from her family.  Her Bethesda Christian Fellowship family filled the void.

Senior Pastor Bryan Peterson says hearing the charges have been dropped is actually helping the church community move on from their personal tragedy.

“We don’t hold any indifference. We’re just glad there could be closure. And we do pray for the individual and their family,” Peterson said.