A judge ruled Friday that an inquest cleared a 17-year-old boy of criminal wrongdoing in an Oct. 7 car accident that killed five girls because the boy apparently was suffering a seizure when his car struck the teenagers.
"The evidence and testimony adduced in these proceedings does not establish probable cause that criminal conduct occurred in the events of Oct. 7," said Brown County Circuit Judge Richard Dietz in exonerating Scott Karcz.He presided over the two-day hearing in which District Attorney John Zakowski produced testimony from 24 witnesses and introduced 70 exhibits that Dietz said did not support charges of homicide by reckless conduct or by negligent use of a motor vehicle.
He said there was no evidence Karcz consciously drove recklessly and said the youth faithfully took the Tegratol pills that were supposed to control his epilepsy.
Dr. David Dahl, a Milwaukee neurologist, testified that he believed Karcz had suffered a seizure. A sheriff's department accident specialist said the circumstances of the crash suggested a driver not in control of himself or his vehicle.
Dahl testified Tegratol is only 50 to 60 percent effective in preventing seizures in cases such as Karcz's. He also said a head injury Karcz suffered in the crash caused amnesia that blocked his memory of the accident.
Testimony from Officer Randy Schultz showed Karcz did not try to brake or steer the car during the 21 seconds it accelerated up to 80 mph in four blocks, further suggesting he was suffering a seizure.
The accident killed Nicole Watia, 12, and Laura Karcz, Brenda Hylok, Jessica McKeefry and Jodi Prokop, all 13. Relatives reacted to the ruling with a mixture of anger, bitterness and frustration - and a call to tighten state law.
Karcz's pediatrician, Dr. Gordon Haugan, testified he put Karcz on Tegratol in 1987.