Woman faces 17 charges for fatal January crash
PRESTON — An Illinois woman was drunk, speeding and passing in a no-passing zone when she slammed into a car driven by a 16-year-old Canton girl, killing the teenager instantly, court documents say.
Cindy Lee Mueske, 55, of Ashland, Ill., faces 17 criminal charges as a result of the Jan. 28 crash, including one count of second-degree manslaughter and six counts of criminal vehicular homicide, all felonies; one count of gross misdemeanor reckless driving; four counts of DWI and five other traffic violations, all misdemeanors.
Her first appearance in Fillmore County District Court is set for Monday.
Mueske was northbound on U.S. Highway 52 between Harmony and Preston about 8:45 p.m. that night, "driving aggressively," according to an off-duty police officer Mueske was following. The witness said the pickup came up close behind him with its bright headlights on, then tried to pass him three times before finally going around him and a van in front of him in a no-passing zone.
Another witness, who was southbound on U.S. 52, said a pickup "came straight across the center line; it was not drifting," forcing him to pull over to avoid a collision.
Mueske then plowed head-on into a car driven by Kaitlyn Helene Hansen, the criminal complaint says, sending both vehicles into the west ditch. Mueske was ejected from her truck and taken by medical helicopter to a Rochester hospital.
Hansen, a junior at Fillmore Central High School, was pronounced dead at the scene.
As an officer looked through Mueske's pickup for insurance information, he allegedly found several open liquor bottles; an officer at the hospital reported he could smell alcohol on Mueske.
Because of the nature of the crash, a search warrant was granted for a sample of Mueske's blood. While her medical records indicated a blood alcohol level of 0.152, with a positive test for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, the test results from the BCA — which analyzed blood taken four hours after the crash — revealed a blood alcohol range of 0.08 to 0.151.
The BCA also reported finding TCH in the blood sample.
An analysis of the pickup's airbag control module indicated its speed at 94 mph a half-second before the crash, the report says. In addition, Mueske had "clearly crossed over the solid yellow line."
Each of the felonies is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.