Baraboo News Republic: Sauk County's Daily Newspaper
Friday, August 10, 2007
Officials OK release of body
By Dustin Weis
PORTAGE - According to traditional beliefs of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church,
a soul can wander the Earth for 40 days after the body dies.
"In the orthodox tradition, the soul is still here, among its friends and
relatives," said Julian Kulas, an attorney from Chicago and advocate for the
Ukrainian Consul General. "Normally, the family will have services then on
the fortieth day."
About 40 days after a Ukrainian teenager's death, Columbia County officials
said they have authorized the release of her body after a car crash claimed
her life near Wisconsin Dells in late June.
Assistant District Attorney Troy Cross said Wednesday the medical examiner's
office had been barred from releasing the body of 19-year-old Olga Ivanenko
until a public defender was appointed for Andrii Pomaz, also 19. Pomaz, who
was reportedly the victim's boyfriend, was charged last week with causing
Ivanenko's death through negligent operation of a motor vehicle. Pomaz is
held at the Columbia County jail on $10,000 cash bond.
Funeral Director Chris Lenzendorf said he was relieved to pass the word on
to Ivanenko's grieving parents in Ukraine, who had been pleading for their
daughter's body so they could have a funeral. Olga Ivanenko came to
Wisconsin Dells this summer to work at Noah's Ark through an international
"We were embarrassed because this isn't how our country is supposed to
operate," Lenzendorf said. "It's like we're a Third World country."
However, once the county appointed attorney Eric Schulenburg as Pomaz's
public defender, Schulenberg agreed the body would not be needed in Pomaz's
court proceedings. Columbia County medical examiner Marc Playman said that,
because of recent court cases in Wisconsin, both the prosecutor and the
defense in a court case must agree to release a body for burial.
Cross's office was at first unsure what charges, if any, they would level at
Pomaz for his role in the crash. After that, Cross said, a public defender
needed to sign off on the release of the body.
"(Schulenberg's office) was able to notify me they weren't going to need it
anymore for evidence," Cross said.
Kulas also apologized on Wednesday for mistakenly calling Ivanenko Pomaz's a
fiance. He explained that he heard the term used by a woman involved in the
crash that knew both the defendant and the victim, but said the meaning of
the word was lost in translation.
"I did not purposefully misrepresent the truth," Kulas said. "The term, in
Ukrainian, could mean either girlfriend or fiance."
Court documents allege that Pomaz was driving a carload of four other
Ukrainian students on June 29. Deputies responded to a report of a
one-vehicle rollover and concluded that Pomaz lost control of the car while
negotiating a corner at speeds in excess of 50 mph in a 25-mph zone. The
vehicle rolled, struck a power pole and continued to roll to a stop.
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, Maria Patsera, 19, also was treated at UW Hospital. None of the
other people in the car suffered serious injuries.
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