A drunken driver who killed a Brooklyn Center teen pleaded guilty Monday to criminal vehicular homicide.
Michael Vanwagner, 24, of Coon Rapids, could receive the maximum 10 years in prison allowed under Minnesota sentencing guidelines because of aggravating circumstances. The Hennepin County attorney’s office argued that the long sentence is appropriate because of his high blood alcohol content and because he was driving after his license was revoked and hit another car before plowing into 16-year-old Jason McCarthy’s vehicle.
McCarthy died about a week after the July 22 crash along Hwy. 252 in Brooklyn Park. Vanwagner will be sentenced Feb. 20.
According to the criminal complaint, Vanwagner hit a woman’s car as she was driving on Hwy. 252 near 85th Avenue N. Both drivers pulled over, but then he changed his mind and sped away, clipping the woman’s car again. He then drove into the left-turn lane at 73rd Avenue N., where McCarthy was waiting to make a left turn.
Vanwagner hit McCarthy’s car at high speed. His blood alcohol content was .29, more than three times the legal limit. McCarthy died days later at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.
After the accident, Vanwagner posted pictures of his damaged car accompanied by lighthearted comments that included an “lol” and a smiley face. In an interview with the Star Tribune a week after the crash, he said that he didn’t realize he had hit a person and acknowledged posting the Facebook photos. He removed them soon after McCarthy’s death.