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Hager City man to be sentenced for vehicular homicide

A sentencing hearing has been set in Pierce County Circuit Court for Monday, March 17, for a 24-year-old Hager City man on a charge of vehicular homicide.

Zebediah Nathan Tri pled guilty to the charge during a plea hearing Jan. 13. A felony charge of homicide by use of a controlled substance was dismissed as part of an agreement.

The charges stemmed from an accident last March when the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department was notified of a two-car crash on Hwy. 63 near 220th Avenue in the Town of Trenton.

The complaint states investigation determined a southbound vehicle driven by Kalea Stewart, 22, Ellsworth, was slowing or stopped, waiting for northbound traffic to clear so she could make a left turn into a private driveway. Tri, who was traveling behind Stewart, rear-ended the Stewart vehicle, causing the collision.

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 didn’t 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 the 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.

Wisconsin court records show this was Tri’s first felony charge. He pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia in 2011. He was also charged with two traffic violations from the accident – reckless driving to cause bodily harm and causing injury while operating under a controlled substance. He pled guilty to the former and the latter was dismissed as part of the agreement.

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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