Gregory R. Hurlbut, 57, Waupaca, entered a plea of no contest to a felony charge of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
Hurlbut was scheduled for a jury trial to begin Tuesday, March 8, but his attorney negotiated a plea before the trial began.
He was charged in September 2008 with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
On the afternoon of Sept. 27, 2007, Waupaca County sheriff’s deputies were called out to a crash near the intersection of Railroad Grade and Wilde roads in the town of Lind, according to the criminal complaint.
When Deputy Cameron Durrant arrived at the scene, he saw a smoldering grass fire and a scooter in the south ditch of Railroad Grade Road. He also found the body of 46-year-old Pamela Stearns between the scooter and the fire.
A four-door Oldsmobile Intrigue was on the west side of Wilde Road, just off of Railroad Grade Road. The car had run into an aboveground fuel tank.
Hurlbut reportedly told investigators that he was westbound on Railroad Grade Road, coming into the curve near Wilde Road, when he encountered an eastbound vehicle that had taken the curve wide and was in his lane of traffic. He said he headed into the north ditch to avoid hitting the other vehicle and did not see the scooter.
According to the criminal complaint, Hurlbut also said he was a recovering drug addict and had taken three separate prescription drugs prior to the crash. A blood test indicated the presence of methadone and an amphetamine.
Thomas Erdmann, a crash reconstruction specialist with the Wisconsin State Patrol, reported that Hurlbut’s entire vehicle was traveling westbound in the eastbound lane at 85 mph at the time it hit Stearns’ scooter. Erdmann also stated that research on the drugs found in Hurlbut’s system shows that people taking them should not operate vehicles.
Hurlbut is scheduled to appear before Judge John Hoffmann for sentencing on May 13.