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RACINE COUNTY — The 21-year-old man accused of killing 20-year-old Johanna Pasco after hitting her vehicle while he allegedly drove drunk Monday morning could spend almost 50 years in prison for homicide.

Ernesto Rodriguez, of Racine, was charged Thursday, Dec. 15, in Racine County Circuit Court with one felony count each of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and knowingly operating a motor vehicle without a valid license. If convicted of homicide and other charges, he faces 43-1/2 years in prison or $135,000 in fines.

Ernesto Rodriguez was charged with homicide following a drunk driving accident on Dec. 12 that took a young woman’s life. – Credit: Racine County Jail

The criminal complaint: drunk driving, homicide

According to the criminal complaint, on Mon., Dec. 12, police were sent to Douglas Avenue between Tabor Road and Harvest Lane after dispatch received a report from an Apple watch about an accident and that the driver was unresponsive. When they arrived on the scene, they found Rodriguez’s car facing northbound in the southbound lanes, and Pasco’s car sitting perpendicular to the center line. Pasco had to be extricated from her vehicle and was airlifted to Froedtert Hospital where she later died of her injuries.

Rodriguez was identified at the scene by witnesses and an ID from Mexico, the complaint continues. He had a large cut on one hand and was limping. He failed field sobriety tests and four empty beer cans were located in his car. Rodriguez’s preliminary blood alcohol level tested at .199, more than double the legal limit of .08. He was arrested and transported to the hospital for an evidentiary blood draw where he admitted, through a translator, to drinking three beers with a friend after visiting his girlfriend Sunday evening. He had no recollection of the accident.

According to the criminal complaint, investigators at the scene of the accident noted tire marks on the pavement that indicated Rodriguez was swerving over the center line and went into a fishtail. The road was wet, and Rodriguez’s tires were completely bald. When Rodriguez hit Pasco’s car, it was near the white fog line, supporting the investigator’s belief that Pasco swerved to avoid the collision.

Rodriguez was assigned a $500,000 cash bond and ordered not to possess or consume any alcohol. He was also ordered to not drive at all and to have a SCRAM unit installed if he gains release. He will next be in court on Dec. 21 for his preliminary hearing.

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