Father of pregnant woman killed by driver fleeing police advocates for mandatory minimum sentences

"If this saves even one family from having to go through this, it's certainly worth the effort,” he said.
Posted at 9:22 AM, Feb 14, 2024

MILWAUKEE — From running a half marathon to getting married, pictures take Mark Hagen back to his favorite memories.

"The smile you see here is the smile she had on her face all the time."

They highlight some of his daughter Erin Mogensen’s biggest milestones in her 32 years of life.

"I've never heard her so excited as the day she called me to tell me that they were expecting,” Hagen said.

Erin’s next milestone was supposed to be becoming a mother. That dream was shattered last fall.

“Erin’s phone had detected a crash and there was an SOS,” Hagen recalled. “I was listed as her emergency contact on her cell phone."

He got an alert on his phone that she was in a crash just three blocks from her home.

"I called her probably a dozen times begging her to call me back because I was starting to get worried."

He drove straight there and learned Erin and her unborn baby were killed. Wauwatosa police say they were chasing the person who caused the crash after he pulled away from a traffic stop. Surveillance video shows the driver running away after hitting Erin's car.

"It's maddening that he was fleeing police,” Hagen said. "The black box indicated that he had reached 117 mph in a residential area."

While closely following the court process for the man accused of killing Erin, Hagen learned state lawmakers recently introduced legislation that would create mandatory minimum sentences for those who flee police.

The bill would require at least 1.5 years behind bars for those who cause serious injuries and 2.5 years if they kill someone.

Hagen traveled to Madison last month to offer his support.

Flash forward to Tuesday and the Wisconsin Senate passed the bill.

"Do you think that's a fair place to draw that line and say that's how long this person should be going to jail at a minimum?" reporter Ben Jordan asked.

"It's hard for me to answer that because this is so raw,” Hagen replied. “2.5 years for causing a death seems low, but I understand there's extenuating circumstances."

The bill's Republican author Bob Donovan says those suggested minimum sentences came after compromise to garner bipartisan support.

Milwaukee County's district attorney and Milwaukee's mayor support the effort.

"I think sadly, we've got to send a message that this kind of behavior, enough's enough,” Donovan said. “We can't tolerate it any longer."

State representative LaKeshia Myers, a Milwaukee Democrat, agrees with that sentiment, but she disagrees with the approach.

"The sticking point for me is the fact of mandatory minimums,” she said. “Historically, I have not been a proponent of mandatory minimums. I believe we have jurists for a reason and I think we entrust those judges to make decisions when it comes to sentencing."

Hagen thinks the suggested mandatory minimums are more than reasonable as they’re a tenth of the current maximum sentence.

"If this saves even one family from having to go through this, it's certainly worth the effort,” he said.

The Assembly is expected to vote on the legislation Thursday. If passed, it would then go to Governor Evers’ desk for approval.