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RACINE — The man who allegedly caused an accident while driving drunk that killed a young woman was in Racine County Circuit Court on Tuesday where he pleaded no contest to a reduced number of charges.

Ernesto R. Regalado Rodriguez, 21, pleaded no contest to homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

Man pleads to reduced number of charges in fatal DUI that killed student nurse in December 2022
Ernesto R. Regalado Rodriguez

In exchange for his plea, the Racine County DA’s Office will dismiss but read into the record the additional charges of driving without a valid driver’s license causing death and first-degree recklessly endangering safety. The charge of homicide by use of a vehicle will be dismissed outright.

Regalado Rodriguez is accused of causing the Dec. 12 head-on collision that killed Johanna Pascoe, 20, who was on her way to work at the Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee where she was completing her nurse’s training.

The DA’s Office is recommending a sentence of 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release for the plea deal. A sentencing hearing was set for 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 2.

Case history

According to the criminal complaint:

Emergency responders were dispatched to Douglas Avenue between Tabor Road and Harvest Lane in Caledonia at approximately 6:15 a.m. on Dec. 12, 2022, after an Apple watch detected the crash and reported it.

Man pleads to reduced number of charges in fatal DUI that killed student nurse in December 2022
Johanna Pascoe

Pascoe still had a pulse at the scene but was unconscious and struggling to breathe. She was taken by Flight for Life in Milwaukee where she died the next day.

Regalado Rodriguez was out of his car when officers arrived. They reported his speech was slurred, and he smelled of alcohol. A subsequent breath test analysis indicated a blood-alcohol content level of .199 – more than twice the legal limit.

Police said they found four empty beer bottles in Regalado Rodriguez’s car.

An investigation determined Regalado Rodriguez crossed the yellow center line and struck Pascoe’s car head-on.

Regalado Rodriguez remains in custody at the Racine County Jail.

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