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‘I was scared to go to jail:’ Robert Matagi charged in fatal crash at 13th and Morgan

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Robert Matagi

MILWAUKEE — Robert Matagi of Franksville is now facing multiple charges in connection with a fatal crash that happened at 13th and Morgan on Milwaukee’s south side on Thursday evening, April 11.

Matagi faces the following criminal charges:

  • Second degree reckless homicide
  • Vehicle operator flee/elude officer resulting in the death of another
  • Hit and run – resulting in death

According to the criminal complaint, a short time after 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, a Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Deputy observed a red car traveling southbound on I-43 near Lapham Street. The deputy noted the vehicle was “driving recklessly at a high speed and was using the distress lane to pass other vehicles.” The deputy activated the squad’s lights and siren and began a pursuit.

Crash near 13th and Morgan credit Stephanie Routt

The complaint says the car exited the freeway at Holt Avenue — and proceeded west on Morgan Ave. At 13th and Morgan, the complaint says the driver of the vehicle (Matagi) disregarded a red traffic signal and slammed into another vehicle at a high rate of speed. The red car also struck two other vehicles in the process. The complaint indicates Matagi jumped out of his vehicle — and began to run. A deputy caught up to him a short while later — and took him into custody.

A female passenger that jumped from Matagi’s vehicle was “located in a nearby gas station attempting to conceal a firearm and suspected narcotics,” the complaint says.

Crash near 13th and Morgan courtesy: Christian Veras

The driver of the first vehicle that was struck suffered severe injuries — and was eventually pronounced deceased.

Fatal crash near 13th and Morgan

Fatal crash near 13th and Morgan

The data from the airbag control module of Matagi’s vehicle was downloaded as part of the investigator. It indicated “prior to the collision the defendant was traveling at 85 miles per hour, the accelerator pedal was at 93% and the engine throttle was at 99%.” The speed limit on Morgan Ave. at the location of the collision is 30 miles per hour.

When questioned by investigators, Matagi said he did not remember much after the collision at 13th and Morgan. In an apology letter, the complaint says the defendant wrote the following:

“I had a gun and some marijuana in the car with no license and I was scared to go to jail and be stranded in Milwaukee so I sped up.”

Matagi was scheduled to appear in Milwaukee County court for his initial appearance on Monday, April 15.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales issued the following statement on this case:

“To Mr. Colon-Ortiz’s family and friends, we are praying for you during this difficult time. To the individuals who choose to drive recklessly and flee from law enforcement, fleeing is a felony. Not only do you place your life in danger, you place the lives of others at risk. If someone dies as a result of your reckless actions, we will work with our intergovernmental partners to ensure that you are charged to the highest extent of the law.”

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