RACINE COUNTY, Wis. (WTAQ) - A Racine County woman has pleaded guilty in a drunken highway crash that killed a bicyclist and injured another. 44-year-old Janell Gehrke of Franksville was convicted Tuesday of homicide by drunk driving. 5 other charges were dropped in a plea bargain. She faces up to 25 years in prison when she’s sentenced on June 7th.
Authorities said Gehrke was driving home after drinking with a friend in July of 2008. Her vehicle struck and killed 48-year-old Nancy Sellers of Franklin, an experienced cyclist who had just completed the Race Across America. Her companion, endurance athlete Thomas Chopp, was in a wheelchair for at least 3 months.
Gehrke told police she took medication for her attention-deficit disorder before having a few beers. Prosecutors said she had 4 or 5 beers, and the drug was meant to enhance her intoxicated feeling. Officers said Gehrke had driven up to 50 miles-an-hour into the cyclists, and then panicked and drove home.