MENOMONIE — A Boyceville man who caused a February head-on crash that killed a woman in Dunn County was sentenced to 17 years in prison Monday.
Driving on Highway 79 toward Boyceville, Todd R. Dormanen of E4103 1116th Ave. drove over the center line and struck Jena D. Anderson’s Chevrolet Equinox at 70 mph.
The crash killed Jena and injured her daughter, Kallie Anderson.
Dormanen pleaded guilty to two felonies in August: homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and OWI-cause injury.
A Dunn County courtroom was packed with Anderson’s and Dormanen’s families Monday.
Anderson’s family members pleaded with Judge Rod Smeltzer to hand down the highest possible sentence, 28 years in prison.
“It never occurred to me that someone might be drunk on Monday in the middle of the day,” said Holly Anderson, Jena’s daughter. “Regret doesn’t bring my mom back … and it does not take the pain away of watching your mother die, like my sister did.”
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Jena’s husband and three of her children spoke of their mother and remembering the crash.
“I believe if Feb. 12 did not happen, he would still be drinking and driving — and it would not be my family, but another family,” said Jena’s husband Ron Anderson.
Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf also recommended the maximum sentence.
“This was not a mistake. This was not even a tragic accident … (Dormanen) knew he was too drunk to drive, but he chose to drive anyway,” Nodolf said.
Dormanen sent a text message 30 minutes before the crash, saying he had gotten drunk and couldn’t pick up his 9-year-old daughter, Nodolf said.
The Department of Corrections recommended a 10-15-year prison sentence for Dormanen, Nodolf said. She called it a “slap in the face to the family.”
“The state is extremely disappointed in the recommendation in this case,” Nodolf said.
After the 17-year prison sentence, Dormanen is slated to undergo 15 years of extended supervision.
Four other felonies — a fourth OWI charge, homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, reckless driving and operating with a prohibited alcohol content — were dismissed in August.
Dormanen’s attorney, William Schembera, asked for a lighter sentence. Dormanen’s children don’t deserve to grow up without their father, he said.
He pointed out that over 15 of Dormanen’s friends and family were in the courtroom.
“They’re here to show you he has a lot of support in the community,” Schembera said.
Dormanen apologized for his actions: “I have replayed the day in my mind and wish I could change so many things.”
Smeltzer said Dormanen’s actions were “deadly.”
“When this happens, you might as well us a gun, because the results are the same,” he told Dormanen Monday.
Dormanen must also maintain absolute sobriety, pay $3,308.17 in restitution, have no contact with the Anderson family and pay $1,036 in court costs.
A fatal crash
Dormanen left Tom & Jo’s Bar in Menomonie around noon on Feb. 12. He had consumed eight to 10 16-ounce cans of Busch Light, according to a criminal complaint.
Dormanen stopped at a grocery store and bought two bottles of vodka, then headed home to Boyceville, Nodolf said.
Jena and Kallie had left their home to go grocery shopping minutes before.
Jena, driving at 60 mph, steered to the right shoulder of the highway and braked seconds before Dormanen’s vehicle smashed into hers, Nodolf said. At the time of the crash, she was driving at 39 miles per hour.
Dormanen never braked. He hit Jena’s car at 70 miles per hour, Nodolf said.
Anderson’s Chevrolet Equinox spun into the ditch on Highway 79 in the town of Sherman. Dormanen’s Kia Sorento also spun, landing on the opposite shoulder.
Jena was found unresponsive. Kallie sustained a torn spleen and fractured ribs, she told the county’s victim witness coordinator.
Authorities could smell “a strong odor of intoxicants” from Dormanen’s vehicle, according to the complaint.
Three hours after the crash, Dormanen’s blood-alcohol level was 0.15 — almost twice the legal limit for sober driving.
A Tom & Jo’s bartender told authorities Dormanen had arrived at the bar around 6:30 a.m. and stayed until noon.