Truck driver sentenced in fatal I-90 crash in La Crosse

Francis Rychtik had pleaded no contest to homicide by intoxicated use of motor vehicle

A dump truck driver charged with homicide after a fatal crash on Interstate 90 in July 2014 was sentenced Tuesday in La Crosse.

A judge sentenced Francis Rychtik to 16 years in prison.

Rychtik rear-ended 29-year-old Jason Songer of La Crescent. In May, he pleaded no contest to homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle with a prior conviction and injury while intoxicated use of a vehicle.

Rychtik told police he was checking Facebook on his phone shortly before the morning crash and had been drinking heavily the night before. Rychtik had a blood alcohol level of .047 hours after the crash, which is legally drunk for commercials drivers.

During Rychtik’s sentencing, Songer’s parents, wife and best friend spoke.

Songer’s widow, Felicia, told the court, “he injured multiple people and killed my husband. It was so infuriating that someone could be so careless.”

She went on to say, “in my eyes this was intentional murder. He was out to hurt others… he took away a very happy healthy young man’s life.” 

Songer’s wife said she found out she was pregnant four days after he died. A friend spoke on behalf of the baby.

Rychtik apologized to Songer’s family during the sentencing hearing saying, “I can only imagine how much hatred you have to me and how hard this will be for you. I am sorry I caused so much pain.”