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Hager City man pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide

A Hager City man pleaded not guilty Oct. 7 in Pierce County Circuit Court to two counts of vehicular homicide.

Zebidiah Nathan Tri, 24, W8069 147th Ave., was charged with homicide by use of controlled substance and homicide by negligent operation pertaining to a March accident. His next court appearance is a pre-trial conference scheduled for Monday, Oct. 28.

The criminal complaint alleges:

Around 3:30 p.m., March 9, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was notified of a two-car crash on Hwy. 63 near 220th Avenue in the Town of Trenton.

Investigation determined a southbound vehicle driven by Kalea Stewart, 22, of rural Ellsworth was slowing or stopped, waiting for northbound traffic to clear so she could make a left turn into a private driveway. Another southbound vehicle driven by Tri rear-ended the Stewart vehicle when the driver didn’t see it.

Stewart had two passengers in her car: Brenda Bemis, 50, Hager City, and a three-year-old toddler. Bemis was pronounced dead at the scene.

Stewart told sheriff’s investigators there was nothing she could do to avoid the collision. Tri said he did not see Stewart’s car prior to colliding with it as his windshield fogged up. A witness, who was northbound, also told the sheriff’s department it didn’t appear Tri slowed down before striking Stewart’s vehicle.

Tri was taken to River Falls Area Hospital for a legal blood draw. The sheriff’s department got the results back in June and found no alcohol, but components of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) were present.

According to Wisconsin court records, this is Tri’s first felony charge. He pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia in 2011.   

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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