Lena man charged in fiery crash that killed Oconto woman

Travis Ragen. Photo: Oconto County Jail

OCONTO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - A Lena man has been charged in a fiery crash that killed an Oconto woman in November.

On Dec. 3, a charge of Second Degree Reckless Homicide was filed against Travis J. Ragen, 30, in Oconto County.

The crash happened Friday, Nov. 15, at 11:40 p.m. The Oconto County Sheriff's Office was called to State Highway 22 at Logtown Road in the Town of Oconto.

A criminal complaint obtained by Action 2 News states investigators determined Ragen was traveling west on the highway when he crossed the center line and hit the front end of a passenger car driven by Melissa J. Cota, 53.

Ragen's pickup was pulling a skidsteer on a trailer. The trailer went "airborne" and the pickup truck flipped on top of the car.

"The two vehicles now act as one and began to travel across the eastbound gravel shoulder into the ditch where they came to rest," reads the criminal complaint. "The trailer with the skidsteer still attached disconnects from the pickup truck by tearing the hitch off of the truck. The right side tandem wheels on the trailer gouged into the blacktop causing the trailer and skidsteer to overturn before coming to rest on its side."

Oconto County Deputy Alex Scray pulled Ragen out of the pickup truck seconds before the vehicle burst into flames.

Oconto County Deputy Kevin Christensen ran to the truck to see if there were other passengers to rescue. He saw a dog trapped in the backseat area of the truck, but was unable to rescue the animal. The deputy reported witnessing several small explosions.

This is the moment when Deputy Christensen noticed there was a second vehicle in flames pinned under the truck bed. He found the body of Melissa Cota in the car.

The complaint says a deputy noticed the "odor of intoxicants emitting from Travis [Ragen]" at the scene.

Ragen was taken to the hospital where staff conducted a blood draw. The blood test was sent to the state crime lab for analysis.

A criminal complaint against Ragen was filed on Dec. 3. Ragen appeared in court Dec. 12. Cash bond was set at $10,000. Court records show Ragen has posted bond.

If convicted of Second Degree Reckless Homicide, Ragen faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison or a maximum $100,000 fine.