Thursday, August 16, 2018

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Man acquitted of driving drunk

Mental disease or defect cited

  • Sather-Peter-112416

An Eau Claire man who crashed head-on into another vehicle twice while driving drunk in October 2016 on the city’s south side had been found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Eau Claire County Judge Michael Schumacher went along with the insanity plea Monday for Peter H. Sather following a joint recommendation by Eau Claire County assistant district attorney Ellen Anderson and defense attorney Michael Rajek.

“It is just and fair and in the public’s interest to accept our agreement. He’s already been under supervision and been successful,” Anderson said.

“Due to his age and physical condition, I think this is the best outcome,” Rajek said.

Schumacher found Sather, 82, 1724 Menomonie St., not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of misdemeanor counts of third-offense drunken driving and battery.

Sather was committed to the Eau Claire County Department of Human Services for conditional release for 14 months.

Sather’s wife told police he was to have been at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting about an hour before the crash. The man had two previous drunken driving convictions, police said.

Sather’s blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was 0.218, nearly three times the legal limit to drive in Wisconsin.

According to the criminal complaint:

Eau Claire police responded to a two-vehicle crash at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 20, 2016, on Fairfax Street, just south of East Clairemont Avenue. The vehicles collided head-on in the 2400 block of Fairfax Street.

Police contacted Sather — one of the drivers — who smelled of intoxicants. A vodka bottle was on the front driver’s side floorboard.

Sather denied being in a crash, even though his vehicle was in the middle of the road, clearly damaged, with its airbags deployed.

Witnesses said Sather was southbound in the northbound lanes of Fairfax Street when he collided with another vehicle.

Sather then backed up 40 to 50 yards, accelerated and collided with the other vehicle a second time, this time harder than the first collision.

The driver of the other vehicle, who was treated for a leg injury at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital, said Sather’s vehicle was traveling 20 to 25 mph the first time they collided and 30 to 40 mph before the second crash.

Sather told police he was driving to his Menomonie Street residence from a Golf Road convenience store.

Sather was previously convicted of drunken driving in January 2012 and June 2014 in Eau Claire County.

Contact: 715-833-9207,

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