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Crash results in criminal charges

One man, the passenger, was seriously hurt, while the other claimed the driver had mysteriously disappeared.

Police were sent to the River Falls Area Hospital emergency room to assist the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department and sort out what happened during a predawn one-car, two-man crash near County roads M and JJ last Wednesday in the Town of Kinnickinnic.

When the sorting was done, the alleged driver, Corey M. Pottebaum, 21, of Roberts, who denied at first being the driver, was facing four felony charges from the district attorney: Injured by intoxicated use of a vehicle; reckless driving causing great bodily harm; first-degree recklessly endangering safety; and bail jumping.

According to the criminal complaint, Pottebaum and his cousin Daniel Lee Bailey, had left Shooter’s Bar in downtown River Falls and were driving east on County Road M.

Soon after turning onto County Road JJ, their car, an Audi, went into another lane and crashed.

Pottebaum claimed to be in the backseat sleeping when suddenly he was being “thrown around like a ragdoll.” He said he wasn’t the driver and didn’t know where the driver had gone.

Pottebaum said he first ran to a nearby house for help before flagging down a passing vehicle.

The driver of that vehicle gave Pottebaum and the injured Bailey a ride to the hospital. This driver was not found or identified.

When questioned, the injured Bailey repeatedly told an officer that Pottebaum was the driver of their car and that it was just the two of them inside when it crashed — just before 3 a.m.

Because of a back injury, Bailey was transferred to a hospital in the Twin Cities for surgery.

Pottebaum was also identified as the owner of the crashed Audi. It was towed from the crash site on County Road JJ.

After being given field sobriety and preliminary breath tests, Pottebaum was arrested and taken to St. Croix County Jail in Hudson.

He was set to have a preliminary hearing in St. Croix County Circuit Court at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 6.

Pottebaum was convicted in St. Croix County Circuit Court last May for marijuana possession. There is a felony case still pending against him from earlier this year for vehicle operator fleeing an officer.

Two of the four new felony charges against Pottebaum carry a maximum prison sentence of 12 years. The charge of injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle also includes a loss of driving privileges for two years.