Colfax hit-and-run driver charged with two felonies

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  A 37-year-old Colfax woman accused of hitting Linda Salazar, owner of Mom’s Restaurant and Pub, while Salazar was walking to the restaurant around 5:30 a.m. December 9 has been charged with two felonies. 

Jami A. Golden made an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court before Judge Rod Smeltzer January 3 on one felony count of hit and run involving great bodily harm and one felony count of reckless driving causing great bodily harm.

Salazar suffered ten broken ribs, a concussion, a broken arm, a broken leg, a broken ankle, a broken pelvis and multiple internal injuries. She was hospitalized in critical care at Mayo Eau Claire for nearly three weeks and was recently moved to Mayo Bloomer to continue her recovery.

Golden also was issued traffic citations for operating a vehicle without insurance; failure to notify police of an accident; and obstructed driver’s vision front view (frost on the windshield). 

According to the criminal complaint filed in Dunn County December 27, Golden will be charged as a “repeater” on both felonies because she was convicted in September of 2014 in Dunn County on one felony count of delivering methamphetamine.

Mannequin

The Dunn County Communications Center received a 911 call at 5:36 a.m. December 9 from Dale Schaub, who reported that a small compact vehicle had struck a pedestrian at the intersection of Main Street and Fifth Avenue in Colfax and had fled the scene, according to the criminal complaint.

When Dunn County deputies arrived, the Colfax Rescue Squad was already on the scene, and emergency medical technicians were preparing to transport the victim. 

Deputies found debris south of the intersection that included a bumper cover and a side mirror.

Salazar, who was later identified by her Wisconsin driver’s license, was lying in the street, on her back, with her head pointed north on the center line of the road and was just south of the crosswalk on Main Street at Fifth Avenue, according to the complaint.

Deputies spoke with Schaub, who said he had witnessed a vehicle traveling south on Main Street/state Highway 40 that had struck something in the roadway.

Schaub said at first he thought it was a mannequin that had been struck.

As he got closer, Schaub saw that what had been struck was a person. 

Schaub called 911 to report the crash and said he had seen the car stop, but when he looked up, the car was gone.

Late for work

While deputies were still investigating the accident, Golden returned to the scene 20 or 30 minutes later and said she thought she had struck something while driving to work on her way through Colfax. 

According to court records, Golden’s address is on High Street in Colfax.

Golden told deputies she had stopped and thought she might have hit a deer or another animal, but because she was running late for work, she kept going, according to the complaint.

When Golden arrived at work, she began thinking about the accident and thought she may have struck a person, so she returned to Colfax.

Deputies asked  Golden what had kept her from identifying what she had struck, and Golden said her car windows were fogged up, although there was a spot she could see through. Golden told deputies she had not “seen a person walking around like that,” according to the complaint. 

Front-end damage

The deputies noticed that Golden’s vehicle had damage on the front driver’s side near the front tire, although Golden said the damage was the result of her brother putting the car into the ditch.

Damage to the plastic bumper cover was new damage, Golden told the deputies.

Deputies also observed that the driver side mirror was broken and a piece of Salazar’s jacket was stuck between the mirror and the body of the vehicle, according to the complaint.

When deputies asked Golden how fast she had been driving, Golden said 30 to 35 miles-per-hour. 

In that section of Colfax on Highway 40, the posted speed limit is 30 mph, although the speed limit increases to 45 mph a short distance south of the intersection with Fifth Avenue.

According to the complaint, Golden “stated that she heard a big thump, and it scared her, so she pulled over … she then continued on because she was late for work. The defendant stated once she got to work, she looked at the damage and thought it may have been a person she hit so she came back to the crash scene.”

According to the complaint, Golden allegedly “failed to reasonably investigate what was struck and knew or had reason to know that the accident resulted in injury or death of a person or in damage to a vehicle that is driven or attended by a person and failed to stop the vehicle she was operating as close to the scene of the accident as possible and remain at the scene of the accident until she did all of the following: give her name, address and registration number of the vehicle she was operating to the operator or occupant of or person attending any vehicle collided with and, upon request and if available, exhibit her operator’s license to the operator or occupant or person attending any vehicle collided with and render reasonable assistance to any person injured in the accident, including transporting or making arrangements to transport the person to a physician, surgeon or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent that medical or surgical treatment is necessary or if requested by the injured person.”

Felonies

Hit-and-run causing great bodily harm is a Class E felony that carries a penalty, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 15 years in prison, or both. 

Since Golden’s previous conviction of delivering methamphetamine was a felony, the repeater status could add up to four years if she is convicted of hit-and-run causing great bodily harm. 

Reckless driving causing great bodily harm is a Class I felony that carries a penalty, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $10,000 and up to three years and six months in prison, or both.

Since Golden’s previous conviction was a felony, she could face an additional penalty of up to four years if she is convicted of reckless driving causing great bodily harm.

Bail was set for Golden with a signature bond of $2,000 December 9, but because of a probation hold, Golden was still in custody at the time of the January 3 initial court appearance. 

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled before Judge Smeltzer January 12 at 1:45 p.m.