Plea deal reached for Colfax woman accused in hit-and-run accident

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — A plea deal reportedly has been reached for a 37-year-old Colfax woman accused in the hit-and-run accident involving the owner of Mom’s Restaurant and Pub, Linda Salazar.

Jami A. Golden appeared in Dunn County Circuit Court with her attorney, Christopher R. Bub, for a pre-trial hearing before Judge Rod Smeltzer March 10.

[emember_protected] Bub told the court that the case has been resolved and plea deal has been reached, although no details of the plea deal were discussed.

A jury trial in the case had previously been scheduled later this month.

Golden pleaded not guilty to two felony counts, hit and run involving great bodily harm and reckless driving causing great bodily harm, in Dunn County Circuit Court January 30.

Salazar was walking to the restaurant around 5:30 a.m. Friday, December 9, when she was struck by a vehicle while crossing Main Street at Fifth Avenue in Colfax.

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 has been at Mayo Bloomer since then 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 was 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.

Progress 

According to Salazar’s daughter, Patti Houser, Salazar’s recovery has been progressing amazingly well.

On March 9, Houser posted on Facebook that a “home visit” was scheduled for Salazar Wednesday, March 15.

“Very real possibility Mom will be in her own bed by the end of the week!” Houser wrote.

Houser has given permission for the contents of her Facebook postings to be published in the Colfax Messenger.

On March 6, Houser noted in her Facebook post that Salazar no longer needs to wear a neck brace.

“She has a soft collar if she needs it, but she doesn’t have to wear the hard collar or the chest brace. Also, no more walking boot!!! Pelvis and ankle have healed nicely. Still lots of therapy to be done, but she’s doing amazing well!” Houser wrote.

On February 7, Houser posted, “Mom went bike riding today! And she put on her sweats by herself … apparently she has some contraption to help her put on her socks. And since I neglected to post over the weekend … she did walk across the room on Saturday.”

On January 30, Houser posted, “Mom stood today on her good foot for 37 seconds!!!”

On January 27, Houser posted, “Mom called this morning to say ‘hi’ to everyone and tell me she must have had serious head trauma … someone came in and asked if they could stop by with a therapy dog, and she said ‘yes.’ Also, she’s just a day or two away from a general diet which means no one has to watch her eat and she can have popcorn.”

Plea and sentencing

During the March 10 court hearing, Judge Smeltzer asked whether a Pre-Sentence Investigation (PSI) would be needed.

Bub told the court that Golden was not requesting a PSI.

Judge Smeltzer declared the case “resolved” and set a plea hearing and sentencing hearing for May 2 at 4 p.m.

Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf said she was concerned that 30 minutes would not be enough for the plea hearing and sentencing hearing.

Judge Smeltzer said he was “okay with going longer” if the May 2 hearing requires more than 30 minutes.

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.

Schaub said at first he thought it was a mannequin that had been struck, but as he got closer, he saw that what had been struck was a person. 

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.

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. 

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.

Judge Smeltzer set bail in the case with a $2,000 signature bond December 9. [/emember_protected]