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Restitution order must be changed for truck driver who caused fatal I-90 crash



Five years ago, a dump truck driver crashed into a convertible on I-90 near Onalaska and caused a six-vehicle chain reaction.

The convertible driver, Jason Songer of La Crescent, Minn., died in the fiery 2014 accident. The truck driver, Francis Rychtik, was sent to prison and ordered to pay restitution to the victim’s family.

Rychtik appealed the restitution order of nearly $20,000. A state appeals court agreed that the amount is too high.

The court has ruled that bereavement leave for Songer’s wife should not have been considered in setting restitution, so the trial court has to rework that part of the sentence.

Rychtik is serving a 16-year prison term.

He pled no contest to a vehicular homicide charge, and admitted to driving drunk and checking his cellphone moments before the crash on a part of the interstate that was narrowed because of construction.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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  1. Jessica

    February 21, 2019 at 11:46 am

    The victim is my brother and it wasn’t a convertible it was a 1967 Fastback Mustang he was driving. This man is a disgusting human being! First he complained he shouldn’t have to pay for the birth of my niece. My sister in law had insurance coverage through my brother and when he was killed insurance was dropped. She got her own coverage from the same employer but her pregnancy wasn’t covered because it was considered a pre existing condition. Now he is disputing restitution for killing someone??? The fact he is constantly disputing paying for anything shows he isn’t sorry! He took a life and there is no amount of money that can bring them back but what he was ordered to pay is nothing compared to what he took!

  2. Debora Killilea

    February 22, 2019 at 7:59 am

    He should pay for her pain and suffering,help with loss of parent for their child,and her loss of the love of a lifetime..

  3. Nic Oldenburg

    February 22, 2019 at 10:55 am

    Correction: The car Jason was driving was not a convertible, it was a 1967 mustang fastback.

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