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Man faces charges after fatal crash

December 08, 2010 | 09:08 AM
Elkhorn — Jeremy C. Dees sat in an orange jail jumpsuit with a neck brace hunched at a table in an arraignment room in the Walworth County Correctional Center. He was visible only to those in court Friday via closed-circuit television.

With the Dorwin family watching in the courtroom, Dees was charged with homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and two counts of reckless driving causing injury.

The charges are a result of a Nov. 16 crash that killed 9-year-old Eastview Elementary School student Carter Dorwin and injured his mother, Nicole, and brother, Bradley.

The court appearance lasted just a few minutes, with Judge Robert Kennedy reading the charges. Kennedy also informed a quiet Dees of his rights to obtain an attorney. Dees has been in Walworth County Jail since Sunday, Nov. 28, and is being held on a $250,000 bond. Dees is expected in court again on Dec. 10, at 1 p.m.

The homicide count is a felony and, if convicted, Dees may be fined not more than $25,000 or imprisoned not more than 10 years. The misdemeanor charges carry each between a $300 and $2,000 fine and between 30 days and a year in prison.

According to the complaint, Dees was on his way back to his home in Elkhorn after going to church in Lake Geneva that morning. It was about 7 a.m. and the Dorwins were on their way to school in Lake Geneva.

Dees' green Jeep was on Highway H leaving the city of Lake Geneva limits at an estimated 75 to 80 mph, according to a witness in the complaint. The witness also stated Dees' vehicle left the roadway onto the shoulder and then continued on Highway H.

Nicole Dorwin said Dees' vehicle was completely driving in her lane and was swerving. She said the oncoming vehicle was traveling west toward her and crossed the center line before swerving back. She said it crossed again and kept heading toward her.

At that time, Dorwin said she tried to move out of the way by pulling her vehicle off the roadway as far as she could and stopping. But, Dees struck the rear of Dorwin's vehicle, where Carter was sitting. The collision plunged the vehicles into the marsh off Highway H near Park Street.

Upon arrival at the accident, the police met with Nicole, who was with Bradley. According to the criminal complaint, she told police "her other son was in the vehicle still and that he was dead."

Dees told police after he went to the church, he was returning to Elkhorn, but he did not remember anything until he awoke in the hospital.

After the hearing was over, the Dorwin family and their friends met privately for about 15 minutes with Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss. Following the hearing and meeting, Koss said he would not comment on the case.

Following the accident, police initially stated that "alcohol may have been a factor." However, a blood test after the crash showed there was no alcohol in Dees. Police say at the scene, Dees "blew a .03 percent" on the breath test and that "he had crossed over the center line at a high rate of speed" which typically are "good indicators" that alcohol may have been a factor. Results from a drug screen on Dees is still pending.

He has three prior drunken driving convictions, the last one being May 5, 2008. In 2009, he was convicted of a disorderly conduct charge in Marathon County. He also has ben found guilty of other alcohol- and drug-related charges and battery.

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Walworth County