Michael J. VanWagner, 24, shouldn’t have been behind the wheel nine days ago.
Beside having consumed alcohol – which violated his probation for a felony conviction for making terroristic threats – he was driving on a revoked license. It had been suspended twice previously, reported the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
And he shouldn’t have left the scene after sideswiping a vehicle in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, on July 22.
But he did. He continued on and rear-ended a second car occupied by Jason F. McCarthy, 16, fatally injuring the honors student and cross-country track athlete. Both young men were taken to the hospital – VanWagner was treated and released, McCarthy was kept on life support for days until his family could say their farewell.
And if all that wasn’t irresponsible enough, on the Saturday before McCarthy died, VanWagner posted photos of his totaled vehicle on Facebook, captioning it with, “That’s her front end after I got done with her lol.”
The message was signed with a smiley face.
Under a second image, he wrote: “I’m all good slept a day in the hospital then came home and did yard work lol.”
The photos and comments have been deleted.
“I didn’t even know I hit somebody. I just thought I hit something,” he told the Star-Tribune.
VanWagner says he only learned yesterday “another kid died” while he was on his way to a friend’s home in north Minneapolis.
“Police came and arrested me [Wednesday] morning and let me out because the charges won’t be coming for months,” he said.
McCarthy’s aunt, Brigid Klaysmat, said her nephew played bass guitar in the high school band and in a rock band called the Crak Pots.
“He loved trying everything and had a very adventurous spirit and a wonderful sense of humor,” Klaysmat said.
Because the “odor of alcoholic beverage was noticed” by the state trooper who finally stopped VanWagner, a blood alcohol test was given at the hospital. Results are pending.