Brooke Marie Bednarek, 20, of Lindstrom, was charged in Chisago County District Court Dec. 27 with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in relation to an April 14, 2012 early morning crash that killed Jonathan Allen Gravelle, of Lindstrom.
Two charges are felonies; another pair facing Bednarek are gross misdemeanors.
Gravelle, 20 years old at the time of the crash, was the passenger in Bednarek’s 2000 Dodge Stratus when the vehicle rear-ended a stopped car at the intersection of Stacy Trail and Forest Boulevard, in Stacy.
After an investigation, authorities said alcohol is believed to be a factor in the crash.
Marcus Lee Charles Clay, 21, of Chisago City, has been charged by misdemeanor complaint with violation of the social host ordinance for allegedly furnishing alcohol to Bednarek and others prior to the crash.
Night of partying ends in tragedy
According to the criminal complaint:
Deputies with the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office were dispatched to the Stacy intersection at 4:08 a.m. after learning of the crash.
Upon arrival, a deputy saw a car on fire—Bednarek’s vehicle—in the westbound lane of Stacy Trail near the intersection of Forest Boulevard.
A man, later identified as Gravelle, was lying in the roadway.
He had suffered massive head trauma as a result of the accident.
Emergency service personnel arrived shortly after the deputies and pronounced Gravelle dead at the scene.
Bednarek, who had exited her vehicle after the crash, ran up to deputies while they were investigating her vehicle and asked if “Jon” was OK.
Her hands and clothing were covered in blood, and she reportedly told the deputies she had been the driver of the vehicle and had pulled Gravelle out of the car after the crash.
Deputies then spoke to the driver of the vehicle that had been rear-ended by Bednarek’s car.
The driver of that vehicle, a dark-colored Volkswagen, had managed to drive the car into the parking lot of the Stacy Sports Grill after the crash.
That man, Joseph Christensen, told a deputy he knew Bednarek and Gravelle.
They had all left from the same party earlier in the night.
The deputy reported he could smell alcohol on Christensen’s breath, and a beer can was found on the floor of his vehicle.
He and Bednarek were transported to Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming after the brief questioning by deputies.
There, blood draws were taken from the pair.
Bednarek’s registered a .15 blood-alcohol level, which is above the legal limit to drive of .08.
Christensen’s blood test resulted in a level of .09.
Both admitted to deputies at the hospital they had been drinking at a house party hosted by 21-year-old Marcus Lee Charles Clay, of Chisago City.
They told authorities they did not bring any alcohol to the party; they only drank what Clay provided.
Authorities performed an accident reconstruction and determined Bednarek’s vehicle was traveling 61-64 mph at the time of the crash.
The reconstruction report also noted Gravelle was not wearing a seatbelt during the collision.
Another pair of partygoers who knew Bednarek and Gravelle also left at the same time as the pair, and witnessed the crash.
They gave statements to authorities.
The driver of that vehicle told deputies he did not drink at the party.
If convicted on all charges, Bednarek faces a maximum of 22 years in prison and $46,000 in fines.
However, according to the county attorney handling the case, counts 1 and 2—charges related to the death of Gravelle—call for a presumptive 48-month sentence.
The sentencing guidelines also allow for the court to impose a lesser sentence if the court finds substantial and compelling reasons to do so.
Counts 3 and 4—charges related to the injuries to Christensen—are gross misdemeanors, and have a maximum penalty of one year in jail. The judge can sentence on only one of those two counts because they allege different ways of committing the same crime. Gross misdemeanors are not governed by the sentencing guidelines. Minnesota law allows a judge to impose jail time either concurrently or consecutively to the felony counts in a case like this.
Clay faces a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and $1,000 in fines.