Court hearing rescheduled for driver in washout crash

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The default court hearing scheduled Monday for the driver of the 2003 Chevy Avalanche that crashed into a washout on Freeborn County Road 34 in June has been moved to later this month.

Charles Kenneth Dennison, 20, will now tentatively appear in Freeborn County District Court on Dec. 29 at 1:30 p.m.

Dennison faces 15 felony counts stemming from the incident in which two of his passengers died.

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He pleaded not guilty to the counts in his first court appearance in October.

The incident happened after a drainage ditch had washed out County 34 in Oakland Township in eastern Freeborn County on the night of June 12 during a thunderstorm that brought floods.

The Freeborn County Highway Department erected several barriers across the roadway on each side of the washout that said “Road Closed” in response to the washouts, but court records state Dennison allegedly drove around the right side of the road block, without slowing down, before the vehicle hit the embankment on the south side, coming to a rest facing south.

The Chevy Avalanche was going faster than 40 mph immediately prior to crashing, according to records.

Court records state Dennison — who is commonly called Kenny — was the driver of the vehicle that night, and his passengers included Nathan Buchli in the front seat and four people in the back seat, including Langdon Bachtle, Kelly Jo Abrego, Kelly John Pechumer and Brock Dempewolf.

Abrego and Pechumer died as a result of injuries sustained in the wreck. The others suffered injuries.

Dennison’s blood-alcohol level was found to be a 0.16 level when measured via blood sample two hours after the crash, according to court records. All of Dennison’s passengers in the sport-utility truck were also under the influence of alcohol.