Prison sentence leveled in fatal 2019 crash

NEW Media Staff

A prison sentence was handed down July 29 for a Lena man involved in a fiery fatal crash in 2019.

Travis J. Ragen, 33, Lena, was sentenced to nine years in prison, followed by six years of extended supervision, for homicide by the intoxicated use of a motor vehicle in the Nov. 15, 2019, crash that killed Melissa J. Cota, 53, of Oconto.

Judge Michael T. Judge sentenced him to an additional nine months in jail for misdemeanor bail jumping, in connection with an incident that occurred Sept. 6, 2021. Among other conditions of extended supervision, Ragen must maintain absolute sobriety, pay restitution of $7,497.44 and enroll into and successfully complete all treatment deemed appropriate by the Department of Corrections. He was given credit for 297 days already served in the county jail.

According to the Oconto County Sheriff’s Department accident report, Ragen was driving a pickup truck westbound on state Highway 22 and towing a skid-steer on a trailer the night of the crash. At 11:40 p.m., he was negotiating the curve at Logtown Road when the pickup truck went onto the gravel shoulder. As he reentered the roadway, the truck and trailer began to rotate counterclockwise, crossing over the center line and colliding with Cota’s eastbound car.

According to the criminal complaint, the two vehicles landed together in the ditch, with the pickup truck flipped upside down on top of the car, and burst into flames just after a deputy pulled Ragen from his vehicle. Deputies and passersby were unable to save Cota or a dog in the back seat of Ragen’s truck.

Deputies noticed a smell of alcohol on Ragen’s breath, and a witness said Ragen had been at a bar in Oconto earlier in the evening, the complaint said.

Judge heard statements from Cota’s husband, daughter and sister-in-law, as well as members of Ragen’s family, before issuing the sentence.