Friday, June 21, 2024
Friday, June 21, 2024

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

EXCLUSIVE: Drunk Driver Accused of Killing Racine Nurse, 20, Is Not A US Citizen, Has Immigration Hold


Ernest Regalado Rodriguez, the accused drunk driver charged in the crash that killed 20-year-old nurse Johanna Pascoe in Caledonia, Wisconsin, has an immigration hold in the Racine County Jail, according to records obtained by Wisconsin Right Now.

Ernest regalado rodriguez
Ernest regalado rodriguez

Regalado Rodriguez, 21, of Racine, is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle in the crash that killed Pascoe earlier this month. He could receive 33.5 years in prison.

According to police, Rodriguez had a blood-alcohol level of .199, two and a half times the legal limit.

Pascoe was on her way to Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center in Milwaukee where she worked as a nurse.

Typically, such immigration holds are placed on accused criminals if they are in this country illegally. Regalado Rodriguez is being held on $500,000 bail. The hold means that, if he were to post it, he would be released into the custody of federal immigration authorities.

Caledonia Deputy Chief of Police Shawn Engleman told WRN that Rodriguez said he arrived in Wisconsin from Mexico three years ago and that he is not a US Citizen. He did not have information on the hold or Rodriguez’s immigration status; the jail is run by the Racine County Sheriff’s Department, which confirmed its existence but did not comment further.

Wisconsin Right Now has contacted ICE for more information.

The jail hold reads, “US Immg & Naturalization: Contact INS When available for pickup.” The defendant’s full name is Ernesto Rodolfo Regalado Rodriguez.

Ernesto regalado rodriguez

Regalado Rodriguez’s immigration status has been largely ignored by the media. Fox 6 and CBS 58 did report he was not a citizen, although they didn’t focus on it, but other media have ignored that point, and there is no coverage of the immigration hold. Court records show that he required an interpreter at his bail hearing and didn’t have a driver’s license. A witness told police he was almost struck by Regalado Rodriguez before Pascoe’s vehicle was struck.

Meanwhile, loved ones and the community mourn the loss of a promising young nurse who had just graduated.

A GoFundMe page to help raise funeral costs for Pascoe has accrued more than $30,000.

“On December 12, 2022, Johanna Pascoe, only 20 years old, was the victim of a severe car crash on Hwy 32 in Caledonia, Wisconsin involving a drunk driver who crossed the center line of the road, leaving her with nowhere to escape impact,” it reads.

“When police arrived, she was stuck in her vehicle and needed to be extricated, where she was found with no heartbeat. First responders were able to get her heart pumping again, and she was taken to the hospital by Flight for Life where she remained in critical condition. During her time in the hospital, she never regained consciousness and showed no signs of brain activity. She was taken off of life support on December 13 and succumbed to her injuries very quickly.”

A man who donated wrote, “No matter when I saw her, Johanna was one of the sweetest happiest young ladies I’ve ever met. May she rest in peace with the angels!” Wrote another: “My daughter…was her study partner. They both graduated on Friday as RNs, it broke my heart when she told me what had happened.”

Johanna Pascoe’s obituary says she died at the hospital on December 13, 2022.

Ernest regalado rodriguez
Johanna renee pascoe

“Johanna Renee Pascoe, age 20, passed away Tuesday, December 13, 2022, at Froedtert Memorial Hospital following a tragic car crash involving a drunk driver. She was born April 1, 2002, in Kenosha, WI,” the obituary reads.

“Johanna had just started her career in the Nuero ICU at Aurora St. Luke’s, Milwaukee as an extern nurse. She recently graduated from Gateway Technical College with an Associate Degree in Nursing and was awaiting state licensure to become a full-time RN. ”

“She never had the chance to receive her diploma (to be awarded May 2023) but participated in the Nurses Pinning Ceremony on December 9, 2022. She had previously worked in Med-Surg as a CNA at Froedtert South, Kenosha, as well as at local-area nursing homes. In her high school years, she was manager at Culver’s in Burlington and Kenosha.”

The obituary continues,

“Johanna had a very charitable heart and recently donated her time to volunteer for Tiny Hooves Animal Sanctuary. She regularly participated in blood drives and had volunteered for suicide prevention fundraisers. She lived her life by the words “BE KIND” and was a vocal advocate for any person or creature not receiving kindness.

Johanna had a genuine zest for life. Her adventures were numerous and hobbies endless because she was always ready to say “yes” to an invite. She cared deeply about animals and nature. She took great care of her extensive collection of houseplants and her axolotl Fern. She loved taking pictures, preferring analog instant film cameras – especially when they were found at one of the local thrift stores she regularly frequented. Exceptionally creative, she made the space around her beautiful in so many ways. You could often find her painting, making jewelry or doing crafts with her nephews. She enjoyed food with a passion, always offering to make multi-course meals with extravagant desserts for her loved ones. She usually showed up with ice cream to share. She looked most forward to summer, excited to hike, camp, and attend annual electronic music festivals. She especially cherished her time spent in the U.P. where her grandparents live in the woods on the lake, which she considered the most beautiful and magical place in the world.

Johanna will always be remembered for her shining energy. Her positivity was radiant and infectious. Her laughter came easy. She was a great listener who was intuitive and receptive. She always knew how and when to help those around her and was always actively looking for ways to make things better. She dreamed big and was exceptionally driven, accomplishing whatever she set her mind to. She inspired many and she will be deeply missed.”

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Vice President Kamala Harris has a fight on her hands if she wants to inherit the Democratic presidential mantle after President Joe Biden’s time is over, according to a new poll.

The Politico/Morning Consult poll shows that voters have serious doubts about Harris’ electability.

The poll found only 14% of voters said it was “very likely” Harris would win a general election for president if she became the Democratic nominee. Another 20% said it was “somewhat likely.”

The poll is especially noteworthy given Biden's age. The incumbent president is 81 years old and appears increasingly in decline.

A moment of confusion for Biden at a June 6 D-Day ceremony went viral last week, the latest in a string of similar incidents. At the same time, Biden remains competitive with former President Donald Trump, though several polls suggest Trump has a lead over the president.

Biden's incidents have led some to speculate that Democrats could or should try to replace Biden at the Democratic convention in Chicago in August. That would be a highly unusual, though not impossible, move. Removing Biden would naturally raise the question about who could replace him, but for now voters seem to lack confidence that Harris could win.

The poll also looked ahead to 2028: “If President Joe Biden were not in the running for president in 2028, which of the following Democrats, if any, would you want to be the Democratic candidate for president?”

While Harris was top of the list among Democrats, she only received 21% support. California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg both received 10% support each, while 41% said they were unsure or didn't know.

Only 42% of those polled described Harris as trustworthy, and 44% described her as honest, according to the poll.

Notably, only 36% of those surveyed said Biden should replace Harris as his VP on the ticket.

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Evers recently called for an operational and an instructional audit of MPS.

“I’m proposing today to go two steps further with two important goals: the first, to audit MPS’ programs and operations in their entirety, and the second, to audit the effectiveness of teaching and instruction of our kids in classrooms across the district,” Evers said.

The governor, however, wants to keep the audit within his administration and the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said that’d be a mistake.

“I’m glad that Gov. Evers has called for an audit of the Milwaukee Public School System. Gov. Evers and DPI should work with Joint Legislative Audit Committee Co-Chairs [Eric] Wimberger and [Robert] Wittke to discuss authorizing the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau to audit MPS, DPI and any other involved stakeholders,” LeMahieu said. “The LAB is more than capable of handling this important undertaking independently and transparently without the use of outside contractors.”

The worry is an audit controlled by the governor’s office will not fully look into MPS’s shortcomings.

The calls for audits in Milwaukee Public Schools come after the state withheld nearly $17 million last week because of incomplete and late financial reports. One of those reports was due to the Department of Public Instruction in September 2023.

Evers has asked MPS leaders to be a part of any audit process but warned that not everyone will be invited.

“I also have to say – I’m exceedingly disappointed by the politicking and jockeying I’ve seen since this situation came to light by opportunists who’re seizing this moment to serve their own selfish goals instead of worrying about what matters most: our kids,” Evers added.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos took to social media to accuse the governor of being the one who is playing politics.

“And who do you think [Evers] will suggest conducts the audits?” Vos asked. “The same failed DPI bureaucrats who allowed this to happen or his administration who wanted to dismantle the school choice system so all kids were forced into this MPS mess? We need real reforms to the current mentality where MPS has been protecting the bureaucracy and Gov. Evers has been advocating for shoveling hundreds of millions of dollars into this broken system.”

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An industry group says the Biden administration’s new staffing regulations for long-term care facilities are unrealistic.

The mandate requires that all nursing homes that receive Medicare and Medicaid funding provide a total of at least 3.48 hours of nursing care per resident per day. Plus, nursing homes must have a registered nurse onsite at all times.

Research by shows 82%, or nearly 12,000 facilities in the U.S., will need to hire staff or face being shut down.

Spokesperson Corie Wagner said Illinois is home to the fifth highest number of understaffed nursing homes in the country.

“If we were to apply the new policies and new standards to nursing homes in Illinois today, 84% of facilities would need more staff, and that is really significant,” said Wagner.

The mandate will be phased in over three years, with rural communities having up to five years.

Nursing home operators strongly objected to the minimum staffing proposal in September, saying they already struggle to fill open positions.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in September announced a $75 million campaign to increase the number of nurses in nursing homes.

Nearly 1.2 million residents live in Medicare- and Medicaid-certified, long-term care facilities, but Wagner said that number is expected to increase.

“It’s called the Silver Tsunami, so more Americans are aged 65 or older than ever,” said Wagner. “It's one of the largest segments of our population but the infrastructure we have is not keeping up with our population shift.”

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