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September 2014

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Three cited in summer crash that claimed students' lives

Waukesha - A Pewaukee family is facing numerous citations for allegedly providing alcohol to three Arrowhead High School students at a party in July. The three died in a car crash in Delafield later that night.

Scott Wetzel, 58, his wife, Charlene, and son Jason were all cited numerous times for permitting Kody Koepke, Timothy "TJ" Peters and Ian Glidden - all 18 - to drink. Each of the Wetzels received nine citations and could be fined up to $500 for each citation.

Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel said police were able to track down where the three 18-year-olds had been before the crash. Schimel said the Wetzels were hosting a party and the mother, Charlene, admitted to providing alcohol to the teens alcohol.

Under state law, charges cannot be issued for providing alcohol to a person who later dies or suffers great bodily harm unless they are younger than 18. "We looked at it, and if these kids were a couple months younger we could be in an entirely different situation," he said. "The only other potential for charging a crime for providing (alcohol to minors) is if you knowingly serve and intoxicate someone and they are killed and this is not the case." Schimel said although she bought the alcohol, she did not see the three consume it and leave intoxicated, said Schimel.

Schimel sid there have been pushes previously to change the law to provide for tougher consequences in situations such as this, but the efforts never resulted in change.

"It's supposed to be the responsibility of the person drinking to make sure they don't go out and get behind the wheel intoxicated. We do it different if you are under 18, and you could certainly make an argument with people under the legal drinking age. And they are inexperienced drivers, too, for the most part, but you can't slant the law on this one," said Schimel.

Toxicology reports and the final collision analysis and reconstruction report done by the State Patrol and released in November show that alcohol and speed played a major part in the crash.

Koepke was driving a 2005 Chevy Cobalt at about 3:13 A.M. July 24 when it crashed into a utility pole on Nagawicka Road just north of Faire Lakes Parkway.

City of Delafield Police Chief Scott Taubel said Koepke, the driver of the 2005 Chevy had a 0.175 blood-alcohol level. Peters, the front-seat passenger, had a blood-alcohol level of 0.115.

According to the final accident report, the vehicle was going 58 mph when it struck the pole. The posted speed limit at the crash scene is 30 mph.

Taubel said the reports indicated no other drugs were found in their systems. Koepke and Peters, 2012 Arrowhead High School graduates, died at the scene from head trauma, while Glidden, the back-seat passenger, died from head trauma days later, after being transported to Froedtert Hospital.

The Wetzels had a court appearance Dec. 19. They will be in court next on Feb. 6, when a judge is expected to decide what fines to impose.

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