Bond set at $500,000 for man accused of killing 8-year-old boy in drunk driving crash

John Lahti, 41, is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and causing injury...
John Lahti, 41, is charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and causing injury while operating a vehicle while intoxicated.(Lincoln County Jail)
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 12:30 PM MDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOWN OF MERRILL, Wis. (WSAW/Gray News) – An 8-year-old boy was killed in a drunk driving crash Saturday in Wisconsin, according to officials.

The suspected drunk driver, 41-year-old John Lahti, has been charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and causing injury while operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

Lahti’s bond was set at $500,000.

According to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Wisconsin State Patrol, Lahti’s pickup truck crossed the centerline while driving south on Highway 17 Saturday evening. It hit another pickup truck head-on.

Wisconsin State Patrol said four people were in the other truck, including the 8-year-old boy who died. The others included a 42-year-old man, a 37-year-old woman, and a 9-year-old girl. Officials said the man and young girl were taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, but the woman suffered critical injuries.

According to court documents, the boy was seated in the backseat on the passenger’s side at the time of the crash. He was rushed to Aspirus Merrill Hospital where the initial plan was to stabilize him, then airlift him to a specialized pediatric trauma facility. However, he died about an hour after arriving at the hospital.

A preliminary breath test showed Lahti blew a .290 BAC, more than 3.5 times the legal limit for driving. According to court documents, investigators located a liter brandy bottle that was slightly over half full. The cap was unsealed.

After being medically cleared, Lahti was arrested and taken to the Lincoln County Jail. His first court appearance is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Records show Lahti had a previous OWI conviction from 2004.