MILWAUKEE -- A 50-year-old Milwaukee man is charged with hit-and-run, great bodily harm in connection with a crash that critically injured Julius "Bud" Rodgers at 46th and Burleigh on Friday, Jan. 31. The accused is Jerome Ealy.
Police were called to the scene around 5:45 p.m. on Friday. They located Rodgers -- who was taken to the hospital to be treated for a host of critical injuries including "bleeding on the brain, fractured skull, 2 spinal fractures and fractures to both of his legs." Rodgers' son tells FOX6 News his father is still hospitalized and in critical condition.
According to the criminal complaint against Ealy, officers obtained video from a nearby store. That video shows Rodgers standing in the roadway talking to someone in a vehicle. The complaint says a car "traveling eastbound on W. Burleigh goes around and strikes (Rodgers), causing him to fly in the air. The striking vehicle slows and then flees from the scene and does not stop, does not check on (Rodgers) and does not provide anyone their information."
Investigators say the striking vehicle "was described as a silver Cadillac." The complaint says debris was left behind at the scene of the crash and included part of the Cadillac's grill and other "silver pieces from the body of the striking car."
Police say a citizen witness saw the incident -- and followed the suspect vehicle.
About 40 minutes after the crash, officers located the Cadillac parked near N. 37th Street and W. Fond du Lac Avenue. The car was not running. The complaint says the "Cadillac had severe damage to it, including a smashed windshield and damaged grill (also specifically a part missing that matched the piece left at the scene). Officers had to wake the defendant up. He smelled of alcohol and appeared intoxicated." The complaint says Ealy failed field sobriety tests.
Ealy eventually gave a statement to officers that was documented in the criminal complaint. It says Ealy "admitted driving the silver Cadillac he was found in. The defendant admitted he had drank at his aunt's home and then felt tired so he decided to head home. (Ealy) stated he was driving eastbound on W. Burleigh and that he thought he might have struck a dog. The defendant stated he wasn't sure and that after striking the object, he said he didn't see anything so he then drove to a liquor store and then home. (Ealy) then sat in his Cadillac and drank before falling asleep in his vehicle."
This entire incident has friends of Rodgers feeling "sad and angry." They say he was "very friendly" and "just a nice person." They are praying for a speedy recovery.
Ealy made his initial appearance in court on Tuesday, Feb. 4. The court set cash bond at $250. Ealy was scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 10 for a preliminary hearing.