A La Crosse man was sentenced Monday to community service for misdemeanor criminal damage to property after he pleaded guilty to hitting a motorcycle with his vehicle in July.

Matthew M. Sallander, 38, had already paid restitution to Nicholas McCollough after the crash on Bliss Road going up Grandad Bluff.

“I screwed up and I’ve been dealing with it ever since,” Sallander told Judge Todd Bjerke in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

According to the criminal complaint, Sallander was driving his blue 2002 Jeep Liberty up Bliss Road in La Crosse on July 10 when a motorcycle driven by Nicholas McCollough came up behind him and began passing him on the left in a no-passing zone.

Sallander told police he deliberately swerved left; however, he didn’t intend to hit McCollough, only scare him. His vehicle hit the motorcycle, causing it to fall and skid about 10 to 20 feet, according to the report.

McCollough told police he was driving at about 25 to 30 mph when he passed Sallander and said it was a “dumb decision” to pass in the no-passing zone.

Assistant district attorney Sue Donskey said the criminal conviction was a punishment in itself for Sallander, who had never previously been arrested. She said both parties were culpable for the incident.

“This appears to be two people quite frankly acting stupidly, acting dangerously to themselves and anyone else who may have been driving in the road at this point,” Donskey said.

Sallander’s attorney, Vincent Rust, pointed out that Sallander was the one who called police and he admitted to his mistake.

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“I don’t know if I’ve dealt with anybody who is going to be less of a danger to the community,” Rust said.

Bjerke agreed with Donskey that both Sallander and McCollough were at fault, saying, “This could have been avoided.”

“I run on that road. People go too fast in the first place,” Bjerke said.

Bjerke sentenced Sallander to either pay a $443 fine or complete 20 hours of community service, in addition to the restitution he provided to McCollough.

McCollough was cited for reckless driving, operating a motor vehicle without a motorcycle license and operating a motor vehicle without insurance, according to the report.

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Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.



Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

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