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Trucker sentenced to 18 months for leaving pedestrian “for dead”

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A truck driver has been sentenced to 18 months in prison after leaving the scene of a crash that left a pedestrian seriously injured. 

The incident happened in July of 2020, but the hearing was held on June 13th of this year. 

According to Green Bay Press Gazette, the crash occurred at the intersection of State 22 (Chestnut Street) and Columbia Street, next to Memorial Field in Oconto, Wisconsin. The pedestrian, Timothy Lewis, suffered multiple skull fractures, a traumatic brain injury, a broken rib, clavicle, and pelvis. 

Truck driver Kevin Ruhnke then fled the scene, but was found run off the road in a ditch about 5 miles away a short time later. He was found unconscious in the cab of his truck. When he regained consciousness, he lied to officers about being over the number of hours he was allowed to drive. 

District Attorney Edward Burke said that the truck driver involved, Kevin Ruhnke, was an experienced driver who knew he had  “an obligation of every driver to stop and see if the person needs medical attention.”

“To hit a pedestrian with a semitruck … and take off, and then lie about what you did when you were arrested, (saying you had) slept seven to eight hours, I think that’s reprehensible,” said Oconto County Judge Jay N. Conley.

Defense attorney Andrew Mishlove described Ruhnke as a grandfather know to be a “workaholic,” and “a man of good character.” 

“It’s admirable to be a hardworking guy,” Conley said. “I don’t think it’s admirable at all, driving a rig when you’re routinely going over your hours and driving recklessly, and on this occasion, when heroics and character were called for, leaving that scene and then lying about it are terrible.”

Conley continued that 18 months was the minimum sentence he could impose on Ruhnke despite his “largely exemplary” life. 

Ruhnke will serve 18 months in prison and then three years of extended supervision for leaving the scene of a crash that seriously injured a pedestrian. A nine-month sentence obstruction charge will be served concurrently.

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