Stevens Point police say a Portage County deputy who fought crime for 29 years is now responsible for one. Deputy Ken Tschudy faces a criminal charge for taking the life of an 18-year-old woman in a traffic crash.
Police say Mindy Erickson of Stevens Point died last October when Sergeant Tschudy slammed his squad into her car at an intersection. Witnesses say Erickson had a green light.
Tschudy was responding to a call at the time, and witnesses say his lights and siren were working, but police say the officer was negligent behind the wheel.
"This whole case is very difficult, obviously," Stevens Point Police Chief Jeffrey Morris said. "Ms. Erickson didn't deserve to die that day. Sergeant Tschudy didn't go to work with the intention of the outcome."
Yet police say Tschudy was not cautious, either. Through an intersection where drivers can have trouble seeing each other, investigators say the officer still went 52 miles an hour -- more than twice the posted speed limit.
Not only was the deputy going too fast for conditions, investigators say, he also ignored state law. An officer is supposed to slow down before going through an intersection. The police say Tschudy did not.
"You have to bring your speed down to where you can control your vehicle and stop it if you have to," Chief Morris said.
Since the crash, Tschudy has been on paid administrative leave. Now, if found guilty of homicide by negligent use of a motor vehicle, the officer faces up to ten years in prison.
While time has not healed their deepest wound, Erickson's family hopes justice will.
"I feel that criminal charges are appropriate because it is going to have an impact on him. He is not going to be able to be in law enforcement any more if he's convicted, and I feel that's appropriate," her aunt, Jan Kulberg, said.
Investigators noted that Erickson did nothing wrong. She had a green light and was driving the speed limit. Police and especially Erickson's family lay all the blame on the deputy's shoulders.
Now Erickson's family hopes others in law enforcement pay attention.
"Whether they're chasing someone, have a call for backup, or are responding to an emergency situation, there are innocent bystanders out there and they have to be aware of that and they have to take caution," Kulberg said.