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Wisconsin Man Arrested After Causing Crash That Killed Child
Updated December 19, 2017 6:39 AM | Filed under: Crime
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8-year-old Mecenzie Bickel, of Elwood, Indiana
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Ernest John Pagels Jr.

(SEYMOUR) - A Wisconsin man is faces multiple charges stemming from a 2016 wreck on Interstate 65 in Jackson County that resulted in the death of 8-year-old Mecenzie Bickel.

54-year-old Ernest John Pagels Jr. of Milwaukee was arrested Wednesday on a Jackson Circuit Court warrant by the Jackson County Sheriff's Department.

Pagels is facing charges of reckless homicide, three counts of obstructing traffic resulting in serious bodily injury and reckless driving. He is being held in the Jackson County Jail in Brownstown without bond.

The three-vehicle wreck occurred at 3:50 p.m. Nov. 12, 2016, on Interstate 65 near the Crothersville exit at the 38.5-mile marker.

According to an Indiana State Police report, Pagels was driving from his home in Wisconsin to Florida for a job interview.

Police say he was southbound on I-65 when he slowed his 2015 Kia Forte after he became agitated because a vehicle was following him too closely. Pagel told police he slowed to allow the van to pass.

The van was being driven by April Bickel, of Elwood, who was taking her four children to southern Indiana to look at a puppy.

As Bickel was slowing down to go around Pagel, a third vehicle a 2004 Mercury, driven by Jeffery Lynn Ireland, who was driving home to North Carolina after an audition for "America's Got Talent" in Chicago, rear-ended Bickel's van.

The force of the impact from Ireland's vehicle caused the van to go off of the west side of the interstate and down an embankment.

When police arrived Pagel told police he had caused the crash but the other two drivers were driving recklessly.

Police says Pagel's car was not damaged during the crash.

Investigators determined the primary cause of the wreck to be reckless driving by Pagels because he was driving at an "unreasonably low rate of speed endangering the safety of others and blocking the proper flow of traffic."

A contributing factor to the severity of the wreck was distracted driving and speeding by Ireland.

Three of the four children, then 6-year-old Allison and 2-year-old Jonathan who were in Bickel's van suffered serious injuries and were airlifted from the scene to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville. Another child, 4-year-old Jessa, was transported to Kosair by ambulance. Another child, 8-year-old Mecenzie Bickel died from her injuries Nov. 26, 2016.

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