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Crime

Complaint: Driver was speeding at more than 100 mph before deadly pedestrian crash

1 pedestrian dead, another in critical condition

MADISON, Wis. - The driver accused of killing one pedestrian and critically injuring another on Midvale Boulevard was going more than 100 mph before the crash Friday night, according to the criminal complaint. 

Bond was set at $10,000 Tuesday for 19-year-old Benjamin Cortes, who police say lost control of his car while he was driving recklessly and crashed into a couple who was walking their dog on the sidewalk Friday night

A criminal complaint cites vehicle data that suggests Cortes was traveling at dangerous speed of about 102 mph moments before he lost control and hit Patty and Greg Nametz. The speed limit on Midvale Boulevard is 30 mph.

Greg Nametz, 72, died instantly and Patty Nametz, 68, was "clinging to life" Friday night. The dog ran away from the crash, and was safely located after the crash uninjured. 

According to the complaint, Cortes' 20-year-old female passenger begged him to slow down as he sped northbound. She told police she felt the car lift from the ground as it cleared a hill near Cherokee Middle School. The passenger suffered a broken finger as a result of the crash. 

"This is a defendant when told what happened, told that he killed someone and that he would be charged with homicide he said, 'That's not fair,'" prosecuting attorney William Brown said in court Tuesday. "And that he lamented crashing his poor car." 

Whether or not Cortes was impaired at the time of the crash remains a question. Prosecutors say he admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that day and that marijuana was found in the car along with more than $4,000 in cash and Mike's Hard Liquor. 

"I suspect that in the long run there will be a determination that there was no real impairment other than judgmental impairment of a young man driving a car too fast," defense attorney Chris Van Wagner said. 

Cortes is facing charges including homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle, reckless driving causing great bodily harm and reckless driving causing bodily harm. The charges could change or more could be added as further toxicology reports are conducted. 

Patty Nametz continues to fight for her life and is in critical condition but stable. According to the complaint, she has damage to every organ in her body except her heart. 

Cortes, who Van Wagner said broke his pelvis and vertebrae in the crash, is due back in court on May 21 for a status conference. If Cortes posts bail, he cannot drive a motor vehicle, leave Dane County, contact the victims' family or have alcohol or any controlled substance. 


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