The man arrested Wednesday in the hit-and-run crash that killed Robert Joosten, while he biked home from work in Appleton, has been ticketed for 13 traffic violations in just over three years, including a previous hit-and-run, according to police and online court records.
James Erdmann’s first offense was driving in May 2010 with an unauthorized person in his car, with a probationary license, at age 17. Since then, the 20-year-old Fox Valley scofflaw has wracked up five tickets for operating with a suspended license and citations for failure to yield the right-of-way and operating without insurance or proper registration. He also been ticketed three times for underage drinking and owes more than $2,000 in fines.
He has never been sent to jail.
That would likely change, if Erdmann is convicted of killing Robert Joosten and fleeing from the crash scene at E. Wisconsin Ave., near Ballard Rd., about 1:15 a.m. on Nov. 9. The felony hit-and-run causing death, for which he was arrested Wednesday at his job in Ripon, carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
He is being held on $100,000 bond in the Outagamie County Jail, awaiting an initial court appearance and the filing of a criminal complaint.
Joosten, 61, used his bicycle for transportation and biked daily to his job at the Paper Valley Hotel, in Appleton. Relatives and friends reported that he was conscientious about using lights to make himself visible at night. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, riding his bike and playing pool with his brothers, family and friends.
Police reported that Erdmann had been convicted of a previous hit-and-run, but the charge does not appear on his online court record. He was ticketed for causing property damage while driving with a suspended license in September 2011.
Wisconsin Bike Fed Deputy Director Dave Schlabowske put Erdmann’s actions in perspective in this piece, which describes how the dependance and reliance on cars has helped foster a dangerous attitude.