Homestead, Wisconsin Senior Charged in Fatal Rollover Crash

By Bruce Vielmetti of the Journal Sentinel

A 17-year-old Mequon girl has been charged with negligent homicide in the September rollover crash that killed her friend and passenger, a fellow Homestead High School senior.

Madeline Kudlata initially had been ticketed for driving too fast for conditions and for having an open container of alcohol in her vehicle, which flipped after she struck a retaining wall on an exit onto Highway 41 from Interstate 94 on the morning of Sept. 18.

Sydney Tabakin, 17, died in the crash. She had been a passenger in the back seat and was not wearing a seat belt.

Prosecutors had been awaiting results of lab tests for several weeks. Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams confirmed Thursday that Kudlata’s blood was tested but said he could not comment on the results.

Kudlata made her initial court appearance Thursday and was released on a $25,000 signature bond. She was ordered to maintain absolute sobriety. A preliminary hearing was set for Feb. 11.

Homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle is punishable by up to five years in prison and five years of extended supervision. Charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle carries a steeper penalty of up to 15 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.

Homestead High, where memorials to Tabakin, a popular dance squad and rugby team member, have been up since her death, had its semester exams Thursday and is not in session Friday.

According to the complaint, Kudlata was exiting I-94 about 10:30 a.m. with Tabakin and another Homestead student as passengers in her Nissan Xterra. On the curving ramp, she lost control, struck the walls and flipped.

Another driver who had stopped to render aid to Tabakin told investigators he saw Kudlata toss liquor bottles over the concrete median wall and asked other drivers who stopped to take the liquor so she would stay out of trouble. Kudlata’s attorney, Michael Hart, did not return a call seeking comment Thursday.

Reports in the court records from the traffic tickets indicate that Kudlata “appeared normal” and that she told a deputy at the scene she had not been drinking. The girls had spent the night before at the home of another friend whose mother had recently died in a car crash, Tabakin’s father told the medical examiner’s office.

The charges came a day after Tabakin’s parents filed a wrongful-death civil suit against Kudlata and her insurer. The family’s attorney, Rick Domnitz, said Thursday that they were consulted regarding the criminal case. “There’s certainly no joy on the part of the Tabakins that she’s been charged with this crime, but they’re not the decision makers,” he said.

He said the family is aware of Kudlata’s blood-alcohol level, but he said he did not want to get between prosecutors and Hart by discussing it. Domnitz said it wouldn’t affect the civil suit whether Kudlata is charged with negligence or intoxicated driving. “It’s a homicide charge. I don’t think it matters” which type, he said.

Call a Rollover Lawyer to Discuss Your Rollover Lawsuit Legal Options

If you or a loved one have been severely injured or killed in a rollover accident involving an SUV, truck or van, you and your family may be entitled to financial compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. The Willis Law Firm has the expertise you need to get the money and justice that you deserve. To discuss your case with our law firm and to learn more about how we may be able to fight for you, please Contact a Rollover Lawyer or call The Willis Law Firm today at 1-877-788-7655. You are not alone.