I am very sorry to have to report the first person killed riding a bike in Wisconsin this year. The Waushara County Sheriff’s Office has released the name of the man killed in a hit-and-run crash over the weekend. James Shafer, 56, of Redgranite, was found dead around 3:00 a.m. Saturday on County Road EE, just north of Buttercup Drive in the Town of Leon. Shafer was the owner of Lambeau Lanes in Redgranite and a regular bike commuter.
The media release from the Waushara County Sheriff’s Department states first responders found a man was riding a bicycle and appeared he was hit by a vehicle, but there were no other people or vehicles around at the time they arrived. Shafer was pronounced dead at the scene and was wearing reflective clothes and had lights on his bicycle.
Later Saturday night, 42-two-year-old Eric Banaszak surrendered himself to the Waushara County Sheriff’s Office, claiming he hit Shafer. He told the Sheriff’s Department that he came around a corner, saw a flash of orange, slammed on the brakes and knew he hit someone but drove away anyway. Banaszak has been charged with Hit and Run Resulting in Death, which is a class D felony and has a possible 25 year prison sentence.
According to the criminal complaint, Banaszak and his girlfriend were drinking at numerous taverns Friday night, and she said he was very intoxicated when she later dropped him off at his car.
Shafer was not a Bike Fed member, but I invite anyone reading this who knew him to contact me to share any other information about him. We will follow up on this tragic death when we get more information. Until then, please keep Mr. Shafer, his family and friends in your thoughts and prayers.