CHIPPEWA FALLS — A Neillsville man accused of striking two Clark County Highway Department workers in August, killing one, has pleaded not guilty.
Cory D. Neumueller, 29, is charged in Clark County Court with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle, hit and run-involving death, hit and run-involving great bodily harm and injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.
Neumueller appeared in court Thursday with his attorney, Harry Hertel, where Hertel entered the not guilty plea. Jackson County Judge Daniel Diehn set another hearing for Feb. 17, 2022. No trial dates have been set at this time. Diehn was assigned to the case because the injured or deceased workers were employed by Clark County.
Neumueller previously posted a $25,000 cash bond and remains free at this time. As terms of his release, he cannot consume illegal drugs or alcohol. He also must remain at home except when he leaves for work or to meet with his attorney or doctor; he is allowed one trip a week to a grocery store. He cannot have any contact with the victims, their families, or residences, and he must submit to random drug tests.
According to the police report, the two Clark County workers were removing a fallen tree across Highway G in the town of Hendren at 1:18 a.m. Aug. 8 when they were struck by Neumueller’s car. Russell J. Opelt, 57, was killed, while David J. Murphy, 60, was treated at an area hospital for a broken leg. Both workers were wearing orange safety vests.
Murphy called 911 after the crash, describing what happened, but he wasn’t sure where Opelt was or if he also had been hit. Murphy’s leg was visibly broken, with the femur protruding from his left leg. The officers tied a tourniquet around the damaged leg. The officers found Opelt, who had suffered a significant head injury and was pronounced deceased at the scene.
Neumueller had remained at the scene and identified himself to authorities as the driver who crashed into the workers, the police report states. Neumueller told police he had consumed four or five beers at a bar over a several-hour period. Neumueller took a preliminary breath test, which showed a .114 blood-alcohol level, above the legal limit. He was then taken to a hospital in Neillsville for a blood draw.
However, prior to officers arriving at the scene, Neumueller went to a nearby residence and told the homeowners he had crashed his truck into the ditch. A homeowner provided “a total of seven glasses of water and Cory drank them as fast as (he) could give them to him. (He) also gave Cory a Gatorade from his refrigerator.”
Hertel has told the court that his client is not a flight risk. Hertel noted that Neumueller has significant ties to the community, has lived in the area his entire life, is gainfully employed and his only prior criminal offense was for disorderly conduct in 2012.