Dalton R. Mikkelson, 17, has been charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle for his role in the death of Preston D. Nelson, 19, in a traffic accident on Sunday, April 12 in Vernon County.
In addition to the felony vehicular homicide charge, Mikkelson also was charged with a misdemeanor count of reckless driving causing great bodily harm and reckless driving causing bodily harm. The rural Viroqua resident is also charged with operating at an unreasonable and imprudent speed.
The charges were filed in Vernon County Circuit Court on Tuesday, Aug. 11. Mikkelson is scheduled to make his initial appearance at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 10.
If convicted of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, a Class G Felony, Mikkelson could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison and fined up to $25,000. If convicted of reckless driving causing great bodily harm, a Class I Felony, he faces up to three years and six months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The two other charges carry substantially lesser penalties.
The charges are the result of a fatal accident on Highway 14 near Riley Road in Kickapoo Township in the early morning hours of April 12, which killed Preston Nelson, a rural Soldiers Grove resident. Nelson died after being ejected from his pickup truck as it rolled over after leaving the roadway at a high rate of speed.
The crash occurred on Highway 14 at 1:20 a.m., near the ‘Arboretum,’ a well-known local tree nursery, located west of Readstown.
Mikkelson allegedly told authorities at the accident scene that he had been driving alongside Nelson’s truck and believed he struck it prior to the crash.
Two passengers in Nelson’s truck, Steve Young and Taylor Van Voorhis were injured. Neither Mikkelson nor his passengers were injured.
Jacob Kent, another passenger in Nelson’s truck, allegedly told a police officer at the accident scene that a group of pickup trucks left a party and stopped at a Viroqua convenience store, according to the criminal complaint. Kent also allegedly told the officer that with Nelson driving, they began to “race” with another truck in their group.
Kent also allegedly said the truck they were racing then “rammed” their truck, according to the criminal complaint. He later allegedly told the officer that the other truck did not “ram” them, but hit them by accident.
A more detailed story is included in the August 20, 2015 issue of the Crawford County Independent & Kickapoo Scout.