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Homicide-by-vehicle charge filed against driver in 2015 Roberts crash

A Wisconsin teenager with two drunken-driving convictions was under the influence of methamphetamine when he fatally struck a Roberts woman in a crash nearly a year ago, according to charges filed this week.

Nineteen-year-old Cody D. Carlson was charged Tuesday, Oct. 25, in St. Croix County Circuit Court with one count of homicide by vehicle and two felony counts of using a vehicle to cause great bodily harm. All three charges note controlled substance use as a factor. The crash left 61-year-old Bonny J. Britton dead and two others seriously injured.

According to law enforcement records, Carlson was twice arrested for OWI in Wisconsin -- once before the fatal Nov. 8, 2015, crash in Roberts, and once after the crash.

St. Croix County sheriff’s deputies were called to the fatal crash at 12:45 p.m. on Highway 65, just south of Wagner Drive in Roberts.

Britton was found dead in her Buick sedan, located on the road near a car that authorities later determined was driven by Carlson. He and two others in his car survived the crash, though the passengers were treated for serious injuries. 

Authorities determined Carlson's southbound vehicle crossed the center line and struck Britton's oncoming car as she attempted to swerve out of the way.

According to a criminal complaint, Carlson told authorities on the scene that he had fallen asleep and was awakened during the impact. He denied drinking or taking drugs and submitted to a blood draw on the scene. 

Officers inspected Carlson’s car and found suspected marijuana paraphernalia in a driver’s side compartment, the complaint states. Wisconsin State Patrol troopers also searched the car and turned up a bag containing four boxes -- two of which allegedly contained hypodermic needles, and a third containing about 50 gem bags, according to the charging document.

A St. Croix County sheriff’s investigator interviewed Carlson the next day at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he was treated for injuries. He said he and his passengers left Eau Claire in the car they had been living out and came to the St. Croix County area to shop at strip malls, according to the complaint.

During the interview, Carlson -- described as being “very agitated” -- allegedly admitted to being a meth user, saying he last used the drug three days before the crash.

“Cody appeared to be upset and stated ‘it’s over’ and he has to face the fact that he had killed someone,” the complaint states.

Meth and amphetamines were later detected in Carlson’s blood, according to a report from the state crime laboratory.

According to a criminal history report included in the complaint, the fatal crash represents the third time he has been arrested for allegedly driving under the influence. The report states he was arrested for OWI on Feb. 23, 2015 and again on Dec. 25, 2015. Carlson was convicted in both cases in March 2016

His criminal history includes June 2016 misdemeanor convictions for operating a vehicle without consent and retail theft in St. Croix County. He was convicted of two misdemeanor retail theft charges -- one in Chippewa County, the other Eau Claire County -- in May 2016.

Also in May, he was convicted of operating a vehicle without owner’s consent, misdemeanor bail jumping and a third misdemeanor theft charge in Eau Claire. He was also convicted in May in Chippewa County of taking and driving a vehicle without consent and obstructing an officer.

No court date has been set yet for the latest St. Croix County charges.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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