MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee woman stands accused of running over another woman, causing her death -- and she shouldn't have been behind the wheel in the first place, as prosecutors noted her license is suspended through spring 2020. According to prosecutors, she admitted to drinking and smoking crack before the incident.
Sandra Rybka, 50, faces the following charges in connection with the death of Carla Gould, 55:
- Second degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon
- Hit-and-run, resulting in death
- Knowingly operating a motor vehicle while suspended, causing death
It happened on Friday, May 24 near S. Layton Boulevard and W. Evergreen Lane -- near the Mitchell Park Domes and Carla Gould's home. FOX6 found a memorial outside her apartment building, marking where she lived and died.
"That was my girl. What can I say? I loved her kids. I loved her grandbabies. She was a beautiful person," said Tonya Buck.
Buck said she and Gould became instant friends two years ago when she moved into 555 Layton Boulevard.
"So you can just imagine how distraught I am to know that I can't talk to my best friend no more," said Buck.
A criminal complaint said there was a physical altercation between Gould and Rybka, and afterwards, Rybka struck Gould with her vehicle, dragging Gould to the west side of Layton Boulevard, and then running her over. Rybka then fled the scene, according to prosecutors.
"I was on the window looking out. I'm on the third floor, so I have a clear view to the corner," said Angel Ayala, who also lives at 555 Layton Boulevard.
Investigators found a cane at the base of a traffic signal on scene, which belonged to Gould.
An autopsy revealed Gould suffered blunt force injuries as a result of being struck by a vehicle.
A witness told investigators he saw Gould being run over while stopped at a red light near Layton and Evergreen. He said he also witnessed the preceding argument, and offered a description of the striking driver and vehicle. He said the two women were "throwing punches at each other" -- Rybka in her vehicle and Gould on the street. He said at one point, he saw Gould grabbing Rybka's arm and biting it. Then, Gould began to walk away, and Rybka put her car in reverse and began to inch her vehicle backwards to keep Gould from getting way from the fight. Gould then went around the vehicle towards the front, and Rybka drove forward in an attempt to block her. He said Rybka "kept nudging her with the vehicle or slightly tapping her with the front of the car" as Gould tried to walk toward the sidewalk. Eventually, Gould was on the hood of the vehicle, before sliding under it. That's when he said Rybka accelerated and ran Gould over. Gould was dragged across the intersection. The witness said as soon as the light turned green, he tried driving toward the front of Rybka's vehicle to keep her from getting away. She managed to squeeze between vehicles -- driving away southbound on S. 28th Street.
A second witness said Gould was repeatedly bumped by Rybka's vehicle, and said: "You son of an (expletive). You don't see me walking?" Gould then punched Rybka and continued walking. She said Rybka continued bumping Gould with her vehicle until she ran her over. She said she started following Rybka and took photos of her vehicle.
"I seen when Carla got in front of the car and she accelerated and she just ran her over -- and left her," said Ayala. "And dragged her all the way to the corner here. I never seen that in my life."
Based on the license plate, the complaint said officers were dispatched to the area near 53rd and Greenfield to look for Rybka. They arrived at her home about 90 minutes after the incident, and she answered the door "crying and attempting to hug" an officer, "asking him to help her." The complaint said the officer noticed a strong odor of alcohol coming from Rybka. She said "she wasn't a bad person," but said she "had been drinking all day." She said she "only smoked one rock of crack." Rybka was arrested, and "continued to cry and stated that she wanted to die." The complaint said she wrapped the seat belt around her neck in an attempt to harm herself.
Rybka admitted she was the driver involved in the death of Gould. She said she didn't know Gould's name, but knew of her because she'd given her rides in the past. She noted she was aware she had a suspended license "due to an unpaid traffic citation for speeding." She further admitted to drinking vodka "right before the incident occurred."
She admitted to running over Gould, but said it was done unintentionally. She said there was a fight because she refused to take Gould to someone's house to buy marijuana -- and Gould pepper sprayed her, causing her to be blinded. She said she didn't realize she'd run Gould over until she drove past the intersection. She said she fled the scene because she was scared and she had been drinking.
The complaint said Rybka isn't eligible to have her license reinstated until March 2020.
Gould's loved ones were heartbroken by the tragic death of the Milwaukee grandmother.
"I'm still at a loss for words," said Tamika Gould, Carla's eldest daughter. "She always has a smile on her face. She was always positive. She'll keep you laughing -- she is a jokester. I'm glad she has nothing but positive vibes from people, and left positive vibes with people."
Neighbors called Gould a "sweet lady" who "never bothered anybody."
Rybka was in court Thursday, May 30 for her initial court appearance. Probable cause was found for further proceedings, and cash bond was set at $100,000. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 6.