St. Paul man charged in crash that hurt Stillwater sisters

  • Article by: KEVIN GILES , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 23, 2013 - 9:22 PM

 

A St. Paul man who crashed into an oncoming car in Lake Elmo last year had methadone in his blood, according to a criminal complaint issued Friday that charged Jon Ross Wentz, 47, with six felony counts.

Wentz was driving westbound on Hwy. 5 when his car veered over the centerline, severely injuring Marah Sobczak, 20, and her sister Kalley, 15, both of Stillwater. His vehicle had been reported earlier as being “all over the road,” according to the criminal complaint, filed in Washington County District Court.

Wentz, who has an extensive criminal history, was charged with six felony counts of criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm and a seventh gross misdemeanor count, all while driving under the influence of alcohol and controlled substances. A test at Regions Hospital after the crash showed his blood alcohol content at 0.08, the complaint said. The Minnesota State Patrol spent months on extensive crash reconstruction.

Marah Sobczak was a two-time state hockey champion at Stillwater Area High School and was about to start her junior year as a goalie on the Gustavus Adolphus College hockey team. She and her sister have undergone extensive medical treatment for leg, spine and traumatic brain injuries since the Aug. 28, 2012, crash, said County Attorney Pete Orput.

“Driving under the influence of controlled substances and alcohol and causing death and injuries on our highways has become a scourge in our community,” Orput said in a news release. “My office has long ago pledged to take the strongest possible stance in these types of cases to ensure the victims receive their due justice.”

Methadone is a pain reliever, similar to morphine, and also is used to ease withdrawal from heroin and other narcotics. In addition to legal uses, the drug also has appeared more frequently in illegal drug transactions.

Wentz has been charged numerous times with theft, domestic abuse and traffic offenses; he also has served time in prison. He has a drunken driving conviction from August 2011, Orput said.

 

Kevin Giles • 651-925-5037

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