1/3/2013 9:00:00 AM Charges filed in connection with fatal crash last April
by DENISE MARTIN
Authorities have been investigating the circumstances surrounding a fiery, fatal crash last April that took the life of a 20-year-old Lindstrom man. Their work has resulted in criminal vehicular homicide charges against one of the car drivers and the county charging another person with providing the site where the underage suspect allegedly partied before the fatal crash. County Attorney Janet Reiter said a third person, whom the county considers a victim in trying this case, is also potentially facing DUI charges, but prosecution has been referred out to another county. The Chisago County Board unanimously enacted criminal penalties in July 2010, to penalize anyone knowingly providing a place or hosting an event where alcohol is present and available for under-aged consumption. County Attorney Janet Reiter said the county has filed charges six times under the misdemeanor ordinance and all have been resolved with guilty pleas.
Marcus Lee Clay, 21, of Chisago City, is charged under this social host ordinance. His property east of Stacy is allegedly where individuals involved in the crash had partied before the incident. Brooke Bednarek, 20, was also charged with two counts of felony level criminal vehicular homicide and two counts of gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation-- in connection with the death of Jonathan Gravelle, 20, of Lindstrom. Bednarek is alleged to have been under the influence when her car slammed into another vehicle at the four-way stop in Stacy. Gravelle was her passenger. Crash scene reconstructionists with the state patrol estimate the Bednarek car was traveling about 60 mph when the crash occurred. Recon investigation did not turn up any mechanical issues with any of the cars that could have contributed to the crash. At approximately 4 a.m. April 14 a Wyoming police officer and county deputy responded to a call that a car was ablaze at #30 and #19, in Stacy. Gravelle was located lying on the roadway, according to the accident report, and he died at the scene. Bednarek reportedly told authorities she only remembered “waking up” and her air bag had deployed. She said she pulled Gravelle from her car as it was catching fire. The vehicle that Bednarek’s car had allegedly crashed into was driven by Joseph Christesen (no age or hometown listed in the complaint.)
Authorities said this vehicle was located nearby in the Stacy Muni parking lot, with damage to its back end. Christesen was inside and told officers his car was struck from behind as he stopped at the sign. Bednarek and Christesen were transported to Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming where authorities say they both agreed when asked to provide blood for analysis. After doing interviews in the days following the crash investigators state that Clay was identified as hosting and providing alcohol at a party at his home east of the crash scene, and that witnesses at the party identified those involved in the fatal crash as having been at the party. Clay and Bednarek are expected for a first appearance in district court January 22.