Portage Daily Register: Columbia County's Daily Newspaper
Friday, August 10, 2007
Ukrainian family wants daughter's remains after fatal June crash in Dells;
consul general pleads case
By Dustin Weis, Daily Register
The Ukrainian consul general in Chicago pleaded in Columbia County Court on
Friday that the body of a teen killed in a Wisconsin Dells car crash be
released for proper burial in the Ukraine.
The consul general, Vasyl Korzachenko, appeared at the bond hearing for
19-year-old exchange student Andrii Pomaz, who is charged with the death of
his fiance in a June car crash.
Korzachenko sat silently through much of the proceedings, but a pro bono
attorney, Julian E. Kulas, spoke on his behalf, as well as on behalf of the
parents of the victim, 19-year-old Olga Ivanenko. Kulas said the consul
general had received letters from the girl's parents, who live in the
Ukrainian city of Herson, stating that Pomaz and Ivanenko were engaged to be
married, and that the family was distraught that they had not been able to
bury their daughter.
"They seem to be under the impression their daughter's body is being held
imprisoned," Kulas told Columbia County Court Commissioner Charles F.
Church. "What is the necessity to keep her dead body?"
All five Ukrainian students in the car had summer jobs in the Wisconsin
Pomaz, 19, watched the proceedings from the Columbia County Jail through
closed-circuit court television, and slumped visibly as Kulas read a letter
from Ivanenko's father, Anatoliy Vasilievich Ivanenko.
After being held in both Columbia and Dodge counties since the accident
while authorities debated whether to file charges or deport Pomaz for
overstaying his visa, Columbia County Assistant District Attorney Troy Cross
filed a single charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle
against Pomaz on July 16.
Kulas expressed concern for the young man's welfare in prison, citing the
strains of being imprisoned in a foreign country and losing his fiance.
"I think he needs to be watched carefully," Kulas said. "He's likely very
According to the criminal complaint, deputies were called to South Bowman
Road to respond to a one-vehicle rollover accident in the early-morning
hours of June 29. Investigators allege that Pomaz lost control of the
vehicle while negotiating a corner at speeds in excess of 55 mph in a 25-mph
zone. The vehicle rolled, struck a power pole and continued to role to a
Deputies found two women, one of them Ivanenko, pinned under the car.
Ivanenko later died at University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison. The
other woman, Mariia Patsera, 19, also was treated at UW Hospital. None of
the other people in the car suffered serious injuries.
According to court documents, Pomaz told officers that he "might have had a
beer" but was not drunk and that the brakes failed on the SUV as it
descended a hill, causing the accident.
Blood tests performed that night showed Pomaz's blood-alcohol concentration
at 0.052 - below 0.08, the legal limit to drive in Wisconsin. Tests of the
vehicle's brake system showed it to be "in good working condition,"
according to court documents.
Wisconsin Dells Police Chief Bret Anderson said after the crash that Pomaz
did not have a Wisconsin driver's license and was not able to produce any
type of international license.
Columbia County Medical Examiner Marc Playman conducted the autopsy,
alcohol and drug tests on Ivanenko's body following the crash, and said he
could release the body to a funeral home for transfer to Ukraine, but the
DA's office suspended the release.
Cross said the county was obligated to keep the body as evidence until Pomaz
obtains a public defender and that attorney declines to use the body as
Church set a $10,000 cash bond for Pomaz, and scheduled a pretrial hearing
for Aug. 13 and a return hearing for Oct. 15.
The county court system should have an idea whether the body could be
released by the pretrial hearing, Church said. He told Kulas and Korzachenko
that, by scheduling the pretrial hearing within 10 days of the bond hearing
instead of the standard 30 to 40 days, he was expediting the process as much
as he could.
In the translated letter from Ivanenko's father, the Ukrainian man asks
Columbia County authorities to speed up transportation of their daughter's
body to Ukraine. The letter pleads for authorities to "make a little window
in her coffin" and release to them all the details of the accident and the
Kulas said Ivanenko's parents know very few of the details surrounding their
daughter's death, and said he hoped authorities would find a way to return
the body before the pretrial hearing.
"I think we need to have a little more compassion and understanding," Kulas
said. "Her parents aren't seeking compensation. They're an orthodox
Christian family, and they want a decent burial for their daughter."
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