Man accused in death of firefighter released on signature bond

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LAKE MILLS (WKOW) – The suspect in the drunken driving collision death of Lake Mills Fire Capt. Chris Truman was ordered released on a $5,000 signature bond.

Authorities say 28-year-old Samuel Cremers hit Truman New Year’s Eve on the Beltline Highway in Monona, as Truman helped a stranded motorist and her passenger.

During a hearing Thursday in Dane County Circuit Court, prosecutors say a criminal complaint has not been filed yet, and the case will take some time to investigate.

“I understand this is an extremely emotional case,” said Deputy District Attorney William Brown  “There were numerous people that were victims of this crime.”

Cremers will return to court at 8:30 a.m. March 7 for his initial appearance.

Samuel Cremers

Cremers was arrested Monday on tentative charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and two counts of injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

An official with the court who spoke to 27 News on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to talk about the case says a court affidavit shows that Cremers’ blood alcohol level at the time of the collision was .07 – below Wisconsin’s legal limit of .08.

Drunken driving-related charges are possible with BAC amounts below the legal limit, but they are generally more difficult to prosecute.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne has yet to respond to a request from 27 News for an opportunity to see the affidavit used to support Cremers’s arrest Monday.

Cremers appeared in court in jail clothing usually reserved for inmates who are suicide risks.

Cremers left the Dane County Jail with his attorney without responding to questions from a 27 News reporter.

Monona Police Detective Sgt. Ryan Losby says the stranded motorist and her passenger were hospitalized with non-life threatening injuries.

Losby says Truman helped the two people get back into their stranded, crashed car and had helped get the car running again, before he was hit by Cremers’ vehicle.

Loved ones say Truman was inspired to join the fire department as a result of the 9/11 tragedy.  Officials say Truman was part of the Lake Mills Fire Department for more than 13 years.

Truman’s colleagues say he was a dedicated emergency responder and say they are not surprised he sprung into action while off duty to help those stranded during the Dec. 31 sleet and snowfall.

“He was probably one of the most compassionate firefighters that I have ever met and I’ve been doing this over 35 years,” Captain Mark Bentheimer says.

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