STEVENS POINT − A 30-year-old Appleton man is facing a felony charge after the pickup he was driving crashed Nov. 18, killing one passenger.
Axel Crus-Zelaya is charged with driving without a license causing death. Portage County Circuit Judge Michael Zell set a $5,000 cash bail for Crus-Zelaya during a Nov. 21 court appearance. His next appearance is scheduled for Dec. 19.
According to the criminal complaint, Crus-Zelaya was driving a Ford F-250 with a crew cab west on U. S. 10 when it went out of control west of Portage County B in the village of Amherst. The tuck entered a ditch and rolled.
A woman who had been driving another vehicle behind the pickup when it crashed said the truck had been going about 50 mph when it went out of control. The woman said snow obstructed her view, but she saw the truck headlights point at her at least once while it spun, according to the complaint. She said that when she got to the spot there the truck lost control, she started to slide but maintained control of her vehicle, according to the complaint. The woman called 911 to report the crash.
Crus-Zelaya had four passengers in the pickup with him, according to the complaint. The passenger sitting directly behind Crus-Zelaya, Miguel A. Hernandez-Valdivia, 58, of Appleton, was thrown from the pickup and was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the complaint.
Crus-Zelaya and the three other men who had been in the pickup told officers they were from Nicaragua, but were living at a home in Appleton and were on their way to work, according to the complaint. The men said they worked doing roofing.
Crus-Zelaya told an officer he had a driver's license, but the officer could find no record of the license and thought Crus-Zelaya misunderstood the question. None of the four men who survived the crash could speak English, according to the complaint.
The second time an officer asked Crus-Zelaya about a driver's license, he said it was in the works, according to the complaint. The officers also checked the license plates on the pickup Crus-Zelaya had been driving. The plates expired in 2020 and were for a 1998 Ford van, according to the complaint.
If convicted. Crus-Zelaya faces a maximum of six years in prison.
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This article originally appeared on Stevens Point Journal: Appleton man faces charge in Amherst Junction fatal crash