Alleged Drunk Driver Who Killed Teen Posts Car Wreckage on Facebook

By McCarton Ackerman 08/04/14

Michael Vanwagner claimed he didn't know that he hit another car while driving drunk on probation for a previous felony conviction.

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Residents of a Minneapolis suburb are outraged after an alleged drunk driver who killed a 16-year-old posted a photo of his totaled car to Facebook and added a smiley face to his oblivious comment.

The crash occurred on July 22 and involved Michael Vanwagner, 24, hitting the vehicle of Jason McCarthy after he had already sideswiped another vehicle. The teenager was in critical condition for several days after and was eventually placed on life support that weekend “so family can get [t]here and say goodbye.” McCarthy passed away on July 29.

But on the Saturday before the boy’s death, Vanwagner posted photos of his wrecked car to Facebook and wrote, “That’s her front end after I got done with her lol.” He later posted a second photo of his vehicle and claimed that he was “all good slept a day in the hospital then came home and did yard work lol.”

Vanwagner later told reporters on the day of McCarthy’s death that he was aware he had hit something, but wasn’t aware it was another vehicle. State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said that “the odor of alcoholic beverage was noticed” on Vanwagner, while a police report confirmed that his license was expired at the time. However, his driving record showed that he had been charged twice previously with driving while his license was suspended.

He was currently on probation for a felony conviction over making terrorist threats last April. The terms of that probation included not using alcohol or drugs and remaining law-abiding. Both the results of Vanwagner’s blood alcohol test and charges against him are still pending, though he is certain to see prison time.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.