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New Berlin couple were leaving bingo hall when crash occurred

Jan. 3, 2012

Investigators on Tuesday released the identities of the New Berlin couple who were killed early New Year's Day when a suspected drunken-driving teenager hit a concrete island and crashed into their car.

The case was referred to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office Tuesday.

Jean M. Thaves, 52, and Edward Thaves, 61, were about to get onto the freeway on their way home from Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee about 6 a.m. Sunday, according to a report by the Milwaukee County medical examiner's office.

They were facing west in their gray Nissan Maxima at a red light at the corner of N. 27th St. and W. St. Paul Ave. when a red Chevrolet Malibu was traveling northbound on the 27th St. viaduct, most likely at a high rate of speed, the report said.

The 17-year-old driver in the Malibu struck a concrete island with a ramp located on the southeast corner of the intersection. Investigators said the hit caused the teen's car to become airborne and propelled it into the couple's car.

The top of the couple's car was sheered off, the steering wheel was torn off the dashboard and both front and rear bumpers also were torn off the car, according to the report. The air bags deployed and the couple were wearing seat belts, but they died instantly from massive trauma to the head, the report states.

The driver, who investigators believe was the only occupant of the car, was able to extricate himself from his car and fled on foot but was later arrested at home in Milwaukee, the report from the medical examiner's office said.

Charges are pending in the case. The teenager is being held in the Milwaukee County Jail in lieu of $110,000 bail.

Less than six months ago, the teen pleaded no contest to possession of an alcoholic beverage, court records show.

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