Charges: Mike VanWagner, man who mocked drunk driving following fatal wreck, had .29 BAL
VanWagner posted a picture of his damaged car with a smiley face on Facebook (left); his mugshot (right).
Following a wreck that claimed the life of 16-year-old Jason McCarthy, the man who allegedly caused it, Mike VanWagner, was too injured to take a breathalyzer exam.
Though he allegedly smelled like booze when officers arrived at the tragic scene along Highway 252 in Brooklyn Park on the afternoon of July 24, after VanWagner was taken to the hospital and treated, he was released from custody long enough to make light of the fatal wreck with smiley faces on Facebook. But he's now behind bars and facing criminal vehicular homicide charges after the blood work came in and revealed his blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was .29, or well over three times the legal limit.
According to witness accounts contained in a criminal complaint, VanWagner, 24, was involved in a hit-and-run moments before he plowed into the back of the 1997 Buick LeSabre driven by McCarthy, who was waiting at a full stop in a left turn lane when he was hit.
One witness said VanWagner was traveling about 60 miles per hour when he made impact with McCarthy.
Both cars "kind of went up on their ends and then both came down on their tires upright," the witness said. "I mean, just, the car parts flying everywhere."
That same witness pulled alongside VanWagner after the hit-and-run but before he allegedly plowed into McCarthy.
The witness "saw that [VanWagner] appeared to be unconscious, his head was on the left side of his head cushion, and his eyes appeared to be either shut or in the back of his head," the complaint says. "As [the witness] tried to call 911, [VanWagner] suddenly took off again. [The witness] followed [VanWagner]. [VanWagner] drove into the center median once more and struck the guardrail. [VanWagner] then started heading straight into the left hand turn lane where [McCarthy] was stopped at a red light, waiting to make a left hand turn."
On July 26, the same day McCarthy's family was coming to grips with the fact he'd never recover from his head injuries, VanWagner posted the Facebook photo at the top left of this post. He later told the Star Tribune he wasn't intending to be callous, as he didn't even realize a second person was injured during the wreck.
But even if you're extremely generous and cut VanWagner the benefit of the doubt there, in light of his BAL, there's still no excuse for this post, which was published three days later:
VanWagner, who didn't have a license at the time of the wrecks, was on probation for making terroristic threats. He's currently being held without bail.
To read the charges for yourself, click to page two.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.