WEST ALLIS -- A Milwaukee firefighter accused of driving drunk and causing a crash that killed two people was in court on Wednesday afternoon, June 1st, for the first time. The accused is 31-year-old Joshua Larson.
Larson is charged with the following:
- Homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle (two counts)
- Homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration (two counts)
If convicted of all of these charges, Larson faces 100 years in prison.
In court on Wednesday, the judge gave Larson a $10,000 signature bond -- which meant he would be allowed to go home after signing a written promise to appear in court as required.
"This case has had a very devastating impact not only on the victims' families, which of course, we acknowledge and realize -- but also Mr. Larson's family," Julius Kim, Larson's attorney said.
The crash happened just after 5:00 p.m. near 60th and Pierce in West Allis on April 4th -- Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers.
It involved three vehicles — a pickup truck (driven by Joshua Larson), a car and a minivan -- and it was captured by surveillance cameras attached to the Johnson Controls building nearby.
The two people killed in the crash were identified as 64-year-old Yoruba Sly-Lundasi of Milwaukee (the driver of the minivan) and 38-year-old Wendell Johnson of Chicago (a passenger in the minivan).
Sly-Lundasi was working as an Uber driver, and Johnson was his passenger. Johnson was visiting Milwaukee on business.
Police said a preliminary investigation revealed the pickup truck, driven by Larson, was traveling southbound on S. 60th Street and struck the minivan as it made a left hand turn. The pickup truck and minivan traveled into oncoming traffic and impacted the northbound car. The driver and the passenger of the minivan passed away as a result of the crash.
The complaint says that the entire driver's side of the van was sheared away as a result of the wreck.
When officers arrived on scene, they saw Joshua Larson performing chest compressions on Yoruba Sly-Lundasi. A woman identifying herself as a nurse also stopped at the scene and helped with CPR.
Wendell Johnson was found in the back seat of the van -- not breathing and without a pulse.
According to the criminal complaint, Larson told investigating police he had been driving south on 60th Street when a van exited a parking lot. Larson told officials he did not know if the van was turning left or right onto 60th Street and "he could only remember that the van 'pulled out' in front of him." Larson told officers "he was driving 30-35 miles-per-hour and that he was not able to stop or avoid the accident."
The complaint indicates officers "detected a moderate odor of intoxicants" from Larson. They noticed his "speech was slurred" and that his "eyes were red and glassy." When asked how much he had to drink, Larson said "four 12 oz. cans" of beer. A preliminary breath test on Larson resulted in a .164 BAC -- or more than two times the legal limit for driving. A blood sample collected later in the day indicated Larson's BAC was .172.
Larson told investigators he was coming from Miller Park. April 4th was Opening Day for the Milwaukee Brewers.
An accident reconstruction was done at the scene of the fatal wreck. Based on that reconstruction, the criminal complaint indicates Larson's truck was traveling "approximately 70.93 mph" prior to braking in this incident. At the time of impact, the momentum analysis shows Larson's truck was traveling "approximately 54.12 mph."
The posted speed limit in that area of S. 60th Street is 30 mph.
At least two witnesses told investigators Larson's truck was speeding prior to the crash, with one witness saying the truck was going "unbelievably fast," according to the complaint. Another witness said he thought Larson's truck and another truck were racing.
The Milwaukee Fire Department confirms Larson is on paid suspension while an internal investigation is ongoing.
In court on Wednesday, Larson was ordered to maintain absolute sobriety.
Larson's attorney said there's still a lot of work ahead of them, including looking at the police reports from the day of the crash.
"Just because someone is charged with an offense doesn't mean their guilty of that offense," Kim said.
Joshua Larson will next be in court on June 7th for a preliminary hearing.