Bond set at $5,000 for Hillsboro man accused of driving drunk and striking Amish buggy, injuring five

VIROQUA, Wis. – 63-year-old Bruce Donlon appeared in Vernon County Circuit Court by video Tuesday afternoon for a bond hearing on drunk driving charges related to an accident Monday night near Hillsboro that injured five people. All five people in an Amish buggy were hospitalized after authorities say Donlon crashed into their buggy that was heading the other direction on Kolash Road near County Road C, shortly after 9 p.m. on Monday night.

You can read our original story about the accident here.

Bruce Donlon

Initial reports stated three patients were transported to Gundersen St. Joseph’s in Hillsboro, by Hillsboro Area Ambulance. Richland County EMS transported the remaining two patients to Richland Hospital. Two of the patients were later transferred to the University of Wisconsin Children’s Hospital in Madison. The horse did have to be euthanized because of the seriousness of injuries according to authorities.

Sheriff Roy Torgerson issued an update Tuesday after noon saying four of the five had been released from the hospital but the youngest injured, a five month old, was still hospitalized. District Attorney Angela Palmer-Fisher said during the bond hearing that her latest information was that the five-month old was in a medically induced coma.

Donlon was visibly emotional when he heard that four of the five injured had been released and again when he heard the youngest was still hospitalized.

Donlan faces a charge of Operating a Motor Vehicle While Intoxicated-Causing Injury.

Palmer-Fisher asked Judge Timothy Gaskell for a $25,000 cash bond in the case. Palmer-Fisher said Donlon did call authorities when the accident happened and was cooperative throughout the incident. Palmer-Fisher went on to say Donlon has no prior criminal record, is employed, but she was requesting a high cash bond because of the ongoing investigation and the seriousness of the case.

“So I think that right now we just don’t know everything,” said Palmer-Fisher. “I’m hearing hopeful news with regards to that (injuries), but obviously the seriousness of this and the injuries in this case, are something that the state feels that cash is necessary to have Mr. Donlon out within the public, but then also to send a message to the public about this type of conduct.”

Palmer-Fisher said she had considered an even higher cash bond.

“Your Honor, before finding out the information that I most recently heard that everybody is hopeful in this case that there won’t be a fatality, I was going to ask for much higher than I’m asking,” said Palmer-Fisher. “But I am still asking for $25,000 cash.”

Judge Gaskell asked Donlon what his ability was to post cash bond. Donlon replied “I think $25,000 is pretty steep.” He then said he could likely post $5,000-$10,000 cash.

After a series of questions related to how long he had lived in Hillsboro and his employment status, Judge Gaskell set bond at $5,000.

“I think that $5000 cash is an appropriate amount of bond to address the seriousness and dangerous behavior,” said Gaskell. “But I think it also assures that you will be back in court. Obviously if you are charged with OWI causing a great bodily harm. That is a serious felony offense, but again, I believe that $5000 cash is an appropriate amount.”

Judge Gaskell said the bond amount was to assure Mr. Donlon would be back in court and not intended to be a punishment.

The conditions of bond also included:

  • A restriction not to possess or consume alcohol.
  • Not to possess or consume any controlled substances unless prescribed by a physician.
  • Not to possess drug paraphernalia and comply with random drug testing by law enforcement upon reasonable suspicion of recent drug use or possession.
  • Comply with random alcohol testing by law enforcement upon reasonable suspicion of recent alcohol use or possession.
  • No entry to bars or taverns or any establishment of which the primary purpose is the sale of alcohol.

Donlon will be back in Vernon County Circuit Court on March 6 at 8:30 a.m. for an initial appearance.

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