January 19, 2012 | 02:01 PMELKHORN — An illegal immigrant faces criminal charges after he allegedly blew a stop sign Jan 7. and crashed into a vehicle that was being driven by a fifth-grade teacher from Central-Denison Elementary School.
Jose A. Rodriguez Soto, 29, who lists a Lake Geneva address in court documents, faces a felony charge of reckless driving causing great bodily harm.
He also faces misdemeanor charges for operating without a valid license causing great bodily harm, possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
If convicted, Rodriguez Soto faces up to four years and eight months imprisonment and $21,500 in fines.
After the crash, Carol Nocek was flown Flight for Life to Froedert Hospital, in Wauwatosa, where she has had at least three surgeries. Nocek is expected to survive the crash, but will need several more surgeries.
The crash occurred at the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Dodge Street, which is a four-way stop. The speed limit on both streets is 25 mph.
Central-Denison Principal Samantha Polek told the Regional News last week teachers were made aware of the crash, and Nocek's fellow fifth-grade teachers, guidance counselors and administrators visited each fifth-grade classroom to talk to the students about what happened to their teacher. She said the information relayed to them was positive.
"We told them she was injured, but she was a strong person, who was a runner, and that would help her recover," Polek said. "It was a message of hope."
A long-term sub who has experience in the fifth grade at Central-Denison has taken over and letters were sent home to parents explaining the current situation.
"The kids were very concerned about her," Polek said. "Some kids had her as their fourth-grade teacher last year and now have her again and they know her very well."
Polek said many have been asking what they can do to help out the family. She said the school is collecting cash donations to purchase a Kindle or some type of electronic device so Nocek can spend her recovery time in the hospital reading, which she loves to do, according to Polek.
According to the criminal complaint:
When police arrived at the crash scene, at about 11:28 a.m., an officer observed a Chevrolet in the grass at the northwest intersection. When the officer arrived, he reported seeing the driver trapped inside of the car and emergency personnel using the Jaws of Life to remove her.
Rodriguez Soto provided police with his Mexican Identification card.
A witness told police that Rodriguez Soto's vehicle was traveling at high-rate of speed when it crashed into Nocek's vehicle. The witness estimated that Rodriguez Soto's vehicle was traveling between 45 and 50 mph.
After the crash, the witness said Rodriguez Soto exited his vehicle and said "no brakes, no brakes."
Police observed skid marks on the road, and it appears Rodriguez Soto didn't stop at the intersection.
The officer was present when Rodriguez Soto's vehicle was towed from the scene, and underneath the vehicle, police found a pipe and a bag of marijuana.
Through the assistance of an interpreter, police spoke to Rodriguez Soto who admitted the pipe and marijuana belonged to him.
Rodriguez Soto told police he last smoked marijuana at 1 a.m, when he left work.
On Jan. 9, police interviewed Nocek's husband, Eugene. Eugene told police his wife was going to survive the crash, but she suffered a fractured pelvis, a fractured hip and bruised intestines.
Eugene said his wife will need several more surgeries and would remain in the hospital for about two months.