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Sonnentag pleads guilty to homicide in fatal accident on I-94 near Elk Mound

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — A 21-year-old Cadott man accused of killing two people and injuring six others in an accident on I-94 near Elk Mound last October has pleaded guilty to two felony counts of homicide by the intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

Michael D. Sonnentag pleaded guilty in Dunn County Circuit Court April 24.

Nine other counts were dismissed by Judge Rod Smeltzer but read into the record for sentencing: two felony counts of hit and run involving death; two felony counts of first-degrees recklessly endangering safety; four misdemeanor counts of causing injury while operating under the influence; and one misdemeanor count of bail jumping.

According to online court records, the Dunn County District Attorney’s office has agreed to confine the initial confinement request to ten years in prison.

Judge Smeltzer ordered a pre-sentence investigation.

The district attorney’s office asked that bail be revoked.

A cash bail of $50,000 was set October 13, but bail was modified to $20,000 cash following the  preliminary hearing on October 29. As a condition of bail, Sonnentag was ordered to consume no alcohol and to maintain residence with his father in Stanley.

Judge Smeltzer revoked bond at the April 24 court hearing, and Sonnentag was remanded to the Dunn County jail.

According to the criminal complaint, the Dunn County communications center received reports of a accident on I-94 in the Town of Elk Mound on October 11 at around 2:40 a.m.

When deputies arrived on the scene, they observed a vehicle that had rolled numerous times and was upside-down in the treeline.

Two women who had been thrown from the van were killed, and six others in the van were injured.

Dunn County deputies continued searching for Sonnentag, and around 6:42 a.m. that day, found him walking not far from the Dunn County judicial center on Stokke Parkway in Menomonie.

When deputies asked how Sonnentag had left the scene of the accident, he said he had exited I-94 near Shooter’s just west of Elk Mound.

A jury trial in the case had been scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court May 18 through May 21.

Sonnentag’s attorney, Harry Hertel, and Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf had requested that a competency evaluation be completed for Sonnentag.

Judge Smeltzer ruled at a hearing April 13 in Dunn County Circuit Court that Michael Sonnentag was competent to proceed with the case against him and to assist his attorney with his defense.

The April 24 plea hearing was originally scheduled as a motion hearing pertaining to the Miranda Warning and to statements made by Sonnentag.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled in Dunn County Circuit Court July 24 at 9 a.m.