Driver ticketed in crash that killed Mequon teen

Published on: 10/26/2010

The driver in a single-car rollover crash that killed a Mequon teenager last month has been ticketed for two traffic violations, and the case has been referred to prosecutors reviewing possible felony charges.

Sydney Tabakin, 17, died when the car she was riding in with two friends crashed on the ramp from I-94 to Highway 41 near Miller Park about 10:50 a.m. Sept. 18. Tabakin, who was in the back seat, did not appear to have been wearing a seat belt, according to a medical examiner's report.

She crawled from the SUV before collapsing, the report says.

Milwaukee County sheriff's office officials have denied requests for its reports on the crash, citing an ongoing criminal investigation.

Last week, two state court traffic forfeitures were issued to driver Madeline Kudlata for driving too fast for conditions and for having an open container of alcohol.

The speed limit on the ramp is 50 mph, and there were 300 to 400 feet of skid marks before where the Nissan SUV struck a guard wall and flipped, landing on its roof, according to court documents. A medical examiner's report noted that a bottle of fruit punch vodka was found on the pavement near the crash.

A man who came upon the scene told investigators he saw Kudlata throwing at least two small liquor bottles over a wall at the ramp and told investigators that Kudlata asked him and others to take the bottle of vodka so she wouldn't get in trouble.

Kudlata, 17, entered not guilty pleas to each ticket, according to court records. She is represented by Michael F. Hart, a prominent criminal defense attorney in Milwaukee. He declined to comment Tuesday.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams, who prosecutes homicides, said the sheriff's office had referred the case. Williams said that in most crashes involving death, toxicology tests would be sent to the State Crime Lab and completed in about a week. In this case, he said, the sheriff's office sought the tests from the state hygiene lab, which as of Tuesday had not done the analysis.

Reports in the court records indicate that Kudlata "appeared normal" and that she told a deputy at the scene she had not been drinking.

Tabakin, Kudlata and the other passenger were students at Homestead High School in Mequon.

Tabakin, a senior, was a member of the school's dance and rugby teams, and fellow students have noted her death at events and built a makeshift memorial to her at the school's main entrance.