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Suspect arrested in Middleton crash that killed three teens; homicide charges filed

Eric Mehring
Eric Mehring(Dane County Jail)
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 10:38 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 19, 2021 at 7:13 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The man accused of homicide in the crash that killed three high school students in Middleton earlier this month was officially charged Tuesday morning.

Court records indicate Eric Mehring faces three counts each of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and 2nd-degree reckless homicide, as well as two counts of 2nd degree recklessly endangering safety. According to the criminal complaint that accompanied the charges, Mehring reportedly told a detective during an interview after the wreck that he believed it was caused by “too much speed and more drinks than I should have had to drive.”

According to police Mehring, 30, was behind the wheel the night of Oct. 2 when his 2016 Jaguar crashed into the back of the Chevrolet Cruze the three teens were in. Two Middleton High School students, John “Jack” Miller and Evan Kratochwill, along with a Madison West High School student Simon Bilessi, died in the crash. The complaint revealed all three died from blunt force trauma injuries caused by the crash.

Mehring, who sustained serious injuries in the crash and has been in the hospital since then, was arrested Tuesday and was booked into the Dane Co. jail, the Sheriff’s Office announced late Tuesday afternoon. Up until now, he had not been taken into custody because the jail did not have the facilities to treat his injuries, authorities explained.

(l-r) Simon Bilessi, Evan Kratochwill, and John "Jack" Miller
(l-r) Simon Bilessi, Evan Kratochwill, and John "Jack" Miller(Jon Szczepanski/Wisocnsin Rush Soccer Club & Middleton-Cross Plains School District)

Last week, the Dane Co. Sheriff’s Office urged the District Attorney to pursue homicide charges against Mehring for their deaths. Sheriff Kalvin Barrett told NBC15 News, “[t]his tragic event could’ve been avoided, should’ve been avoided. Due to a very poor decision by Mr. Mehring we lost the lives of three young individuals.”

A search warrant released several days after the Sheriff’s Office recommendation showed Mehring allegedly had a breath alcohol content value of 0.24, three times the legal 0.08 blood alcohol content limit. The warrant stated Mehring told investigators that he had two rum and Cokes at a Cross Plains bar prior to the crash. A deputy described his eyes afterwards as “glossy and bloodshot.”

Mehring also allegedly admitted he was going approximately 30 mph over the 45 mph speed limit right before his vehicle struck the teens’ car, the warrants stated. Tuesday’s criminal complaint shed more light on what Mehring told investigators. He reportedly described going over “a little hill” and seeing brake lights in front of him. Mehring recalled “going too fast for conditions,” the complaint quoted him as saying, and admitting he did not brake hard enough.

When a deputy asked him how fast he had been going, Mehring reportedly responded “about 75″ and, when asked why he was going that fast, he blamed “over confidence.”

Middleton fiery crash
Middleton fiery crash(WMTV)

Witnesses told a detective on the night of the crash that they saw Mehring’s Jaguar headed the wrong way down Mineral Point Rd. and they had to swerve into the ditch to avoid it, the complaint continued. The witnesses’ Honda Odyssey was still in the ditch, near Welcome Drive, when they spoke with authorities.

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