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UPDATE: Minnesota man charged with vehicular homicide in wake of Tuesday's fatal crash

Deborah Bugni

A memorial service was held Sunday afternoon at The Orchard in Baldwin for a 54-year-old Woodville woman who was killed in a crash at Erin Corners last week. Attendees were encouraged to wear Green Bay Packers attire to cheer on her favorite team.

Deborah M. Bugni (nee Merlin) was killed after a northbound pickup failed to stop at the  intersection of County Roads T and G in the Town of Erin Prairie shortly after 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 13.

St. Croix County authorities have charged a Minnesota man with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle in connection with the accident.

According to St. Croix County Chief Deputy Scott Knudson, a 2003 Ford truck, driven by 27-year-old Cody A. Stephenson of Londsdale, Minn., was heading northbound on County Road T and failed to stop at the stop sign at the intersection with County Road G, next to the Erin Corners bar.

Stephenson went through the stop sign and struck the passenger side of a 2000 Cadillac Eldorado, driven by Bugni, who was heading eastbound on G. Knudson said Bugni had no stop sign on G, so she had the right-of-way. She was wearing a seat belt. Both vehicles’ air bags were deployed and both drivers were the lone occupants of their vehicles.

Bugni was pronounced dead at the scene by a St. Croix County Medical Examiner, while Stephenson was taken to Westfields Hospital in New Richmond with serious injuries. He was later transferred to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Online court records show he was charged Wednesday, Jan. 14 (while in the hospital) and will face extradition to Wisconsin. He is scheduled to appear in St. Croix County Circuit Court on March 18 at 1 p.m.

According to Bugni’s obituary, she was married to David Bugni for 37 years. They have three children: David, Nick and Jessica, and five grandchildren.

The obituary describes Bugni, who was a student at WITC, as selfless and kind-hearted. She was an animal lover who took in many stray animals over the years. She loved to sew, crochet, teach Catechism, go on motorcycle rides with her husband and travel. She was extremely loyal to the Green Bay Packers and her love of Diet Coke from the fountain was well known.

A memorial service was held at The Orchard on Sunday, Jan. 18 followed by a gathering of family and friends. Funeral services were held Monday, Jan. 19 at Whitestone Community Church in Oconomowoc.

The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by New Richmond Police Department, New Richmond Fire & Rescue and EMS, Hammond Police Department and Woodville Police Department.

Bugni's death was the first St. Croix County traffic fatality of 2015

“Our condolences go out to the Bugni family,” Knudson said. “It’s a sad, sad deal.”

St. Croix County Highway Engineer Jeff Durkee said improvements have been in the works for the G and T intersection for months. 

Plans include adding turn lanes off of G, islands with stop signs on T and possibly rumble strips on T. These improvements will be done in conjunction with the paving of Highway G from Highway 65 to 63 this summer. 

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in February 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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