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Driver charged with drunken driving homicide for October crash near Sun Prairie

November 16, 2018

Police believe that a Sun Prairie man was driving more than 70 mph and was intoxicated when he tried to overtake a turning car last month but crashed into it, killing the driver, according to a criminal complaint filed Thursday.

Nicholas J. Hanley, 47, was charged with homicide by drunken driving for the Oct. 14 death of Kevin G. Sylve, 60, of Sun Prairie, who was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Highway T in the town of Sun Prairie. A passenger in Sylve’s car was seriously injured.

According to the complaint, filed in Dane County Circuit Court, Hanley’s blood alcohol concentration was 0.087 percent, just over the 0.08 percent limit for drivers in Wisconsin, when his blood was drawn about two hours after the crash.

As someone with three prior drunken driving convictions, Hanley’s blood alcohol limit was 0.02 percent.

Hanley was also charged with homicide by driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration, drunken driving causing great bodily harm, causing great bodily harm by driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration, fourth-offense drunken driving and fourth-offense driving with a prohibited alcohol concentration.

The homicide charges each carry up to 40 years of combined prison and extended supervision.

Bail for Hanley was continued at $35,000, which he posted last month, after an appearance in court Thursday morning.

According to the complaint:

Hanley told police that he had been driving behind a silver Toyota Camry, and both stopped for a stop sign at Highways T and N. Both went eastbound and after the stop, Hanley caught up to the Camry again, which he said was going about 25 mph. Hanley said he had begun to pass the Camry when the driver tried to make a left turn into a driveway for a pumpkin patch. He said he didn’t see the driver indicate a left turn.

Asked if he had been drinking, Hanley at first said, “No,” then said he had a beer about an hour earlier. Later he told another sheriff’s deputy he had two, and then three beers. He failed field sobriety tests.

Crash data retrieved from Hanley’s truck found that he was going 53 mph five seconds before the crash, accelerating to 62 mph 1.5 seconds before the crash. At one second before the crash, he hit the brakes and was going 48 mph on impact with the Camry.

The speed limit on that portion of Highway T is 55 mph.

But Sheriff’s Detective Leslie Keith said the tires on Hanley’s GMC pickup truck were larger than the tires put on it by the manufacturer. Re-calculating and compensating for the difference in the circumference of the tires, Keith said, the truck was actually traveling 70.5 mph at 1.5 seconds before the crash. The crash happened less than a quarter-mile from the stop sign at Highway N.

Sylve died from blunt force trauma injuries while his passenger sustained multiple fractures, a collapsed lung and bleeding on the brain.

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