A Ladysmith man is facing two charges of vehicular homicide in Price County Circuit Court after a vehicle he was allegedly driving crashed, ejected and killed his passenger.
Ethan KJ Russell, 17, is charged with one felony count of homicide by the intoxicated use of a vehicle and one felony count of homicide by vehicle with the use of a controlled substance. If convicted, Russell could be sentenced to a maximum punishment of 50 years incarceration or $200,000 in fines or both.
Russell appeared in custody in Price County Circuit Court on Oct. 29 for a preliminary hearing, where he entered not guilty pleas to both counts.
According to the criminal complaint, on Aug. 2 at 6:20 p.m. a Price County deputy responded to a one-vehicle accident with injuries on Wis. 70 near the intersection of North Fork Road in the township of Flambeau.
Two Department of Natural Resources wardens and two EMS personnel were already on scene attending to Oryan E. Jenness when the deputy arrived. Jenness was lying in the ditch with severe, obvious injuries and was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Russell admitted to being the driver of the vehicle and had been seen by witnesses speaking with and apologizing to Jenness.
At the scene, Russell was seen drinking from a brown can that he threw into the ditch. Law enforcement recovered the can and discovered it was an energy drink mixed with alcohol. Russell’s speech was slurred and a smell of intoxicants could be detected on Russell, according to the criminal complaint.
A witness at the scene reported she had been driving on Wis. 70 when Russell passed her vehicle at a high rate of speed. The witness reported she had seen Jenness’s feet hanging outside of the vehicle when Russell passed her vehicle.
The vehicle crashed and rolled, ejecting Jenness, when Russell lost control of the vehicle on a curve, according to the criminal complaint.
Russell was transported to a local hospital, where a blood draw was administered. Results from the blood draw taken approximately two hours after the crash show that at the time of the crash Russell had cannabis in his system and his blood alcohol content was .079.
At the time of the incident, Russell had an open $2,500 signature bond in Rusk County Circuit Court for one count of disorderly conduct.
Russell is being held in Prince County Jail on a $2,000 cash bond.