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Former surgeon pleads no contest to fatal crash that stirred legislative debate

Former surgeon Mark Benson pleaded no contest Tuesday to causing a fatal crash that helped drive the state Legislature's current debate over drunken driving laws.

He faces up to 53 years in prison when he's sentenced Aug. 10. Authorities said Benson, 56, was high on prescription drugs, and not alcohol, when his car rear-ended another and killed three people in Oconomowoc 14 months ago.

But Benson was under orders not to drive at the time, because he had just been sentenced for his third OWI conviction and had not reported to jail yet.

The crash killed Oconomowoc High School administrator Jennifer Bukosky, her unborn child, and her 10-year-old daughter.

Bukosky's father went on a media blitz a few days later to scold Wisconsin officials for not getting tougher on drunken drivers.

And later that day, Gov. Jim Doyle announced his support for making three-time OWI a felony.

Lawmakers from the area demanded an even tougher crackdown. Both houses of the Legislature are now considering their own packages of reforms.

But Bukosky's family testified at a recent Senate hearing that they don't go far enough.

Benson pleaded no contest to three counts of homicide by intoxication and two counts of causing injury by intoxication.

Two other counts were dropped in the plea deal.

Authorities said Benson was under the influence of a sleep aid and an anxiety medication at the time of the crash.

Also, he's back in jail after he recently posted a $0.5 million bond.