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Red Wing woman pleads guilty to vehicular homicide in death of Pine Island man

ELLSWORTH — A Red Wing woman pleaded guilty Monday in Pierce County Circuit Court to vehicular homicide, a felony, as part of a plea bargain. That agreement dismisses two other felony charges stemming from the Oct. 3, 2012, crash that killed a well-known Pine Island man in rural Wisconsin.

Cassandra Cleo Smith, 21, is scheduled for sentencing on Oct. 14. She faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Smith was swerved into oncoming traffic and collided with a motorcycle driven by Dennis Manning, 65, in rural Trimbelle, Wis., according to the criminal complaint. Stephanie Luann Foster, Manning's passenger, was also injured in the accident.

Manning and Foster, 39, of Pine Island, were airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul for treatment. Manning, a retired Olmsted County building inspector, died later that day, while Foster required surgery.

Smith was charged March 8 with three felonies: homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, homicide by vehicle — use of controlled substance, and homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. She pleaded guilty to the latter charge, which is considered the least serious offense


According to the court complaint, Smith told authorities she was traveling from Red Wing to Bay City, Wis., to visit a friend. However, she apparently missed the turn and was forced to double back on U.S. 63 — traveling back toward Red Wing.

A witness provided a written statement that Smith's vehicle was swerving all over the road and drifted into oncoming traffic to collide with Manning's motorcycle. During an interview conducted at River Falls Area Hospital, Smith told authorities she fell asleep at the wheel.

Blood samples taken from Smith after the crash tested positive for THC, an ingredient found in marijuana.

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