by LAURA HAYES
An Arcadia man is currently in custody following a fatal car crash earlier this month.
Josue Cruz Escobar, 30, is being held in the Trempealeau County Jail on 10 charges — two counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, two counts of knowingly operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license causing death, two counts of causing injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle, two counts of knowingly operating a motor vehicle without a valid driver’s license causing great bodily harm, and two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated causing injury. If convicted, Escobar could face a fine of up to $100,000 and a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
On January 1, Trempealeau County deputies responded to a report of a three-vehicle car accident on State Road 93 near Knudtson Drive in the town of Chimney Rock. When the deputy arrived, he saw three “severely damaged vehicles,” according to the complaint.
A witness told deputies that she was driving on State Road 93, and right before a curve, “she observed a white sedan cross over the centerline toward her vehicle,” according to the complaint. The witness told deputies that the white car, allegedly driven by Escobar, was rapidly driving toward her. The witness said that she swerved to avoid collision, and when she looked in the rearview mirror she saw it strike a vehicle driven by Eric Davidson, 36, of Holmen, Wis. Escobar’s vehicle then struck a second vehicle — an SUV driven by Joregette Pronschinske, 59, of Arcadia.
Two of Escobar’s passengers were pronounced dead when deputies arrived — Leslie Flores, 18, of Independence, Wis., and Lizbeth Gonzales, 19, of Independence.
Several people were injured. Escobar and his passenger, Jonathan Ochoa, 19, of Arcadia, were transported to the hospital in critical condition. The complaint states that Ochoa has limited brain activity and medical professionals believe that he may have life-long brain injuries as a result of the accident.
Pronschinske and her passenger, John Pronschinske, 63, of Arcadia, were transported to the hospital in serious but stable condition. According to the complaint, Joregette sustained a broken neck, wrist, ankle, and nine ribs, and John sustained a broken sternum and soft tissue injuries. Davidson sustained minor injuries. On Friday, January 13, Trempealeau County Sheriff Richard Anderson said that no one else had died.
According to the complaint, the deputy who searched Escobar detected the odor of intoxicants on him. The deputy also allegedly observed several open beer cans inside of the vehicle. A warrant was signed for a sample of Escobar’s blood. Wisconsin State Crime Laboratory professionals reported that his blood alcohol concentration at the time of the accident was .123.
On January 7, Escobar was taken into custody in Olmsted County on a Trempealeau County warrant. Escobar made his first appearance in court on January 13 on these charges. His bail was set at $500,000.
“It’s still under investigation and has been since the crash. We’re taking it very seriously because two people died from our community,” Anderson said.