Michael VanWagner, allegedly inebriated and driving, got into two car accidents during the afternoon of July 22, side-swiping on vehicle, then going on to total his car when he collided with another car from behind. By his own admission, he was “beyond drunk” when his car slammed into that of 16-year-old Jason McCarthy while making his way home to Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The collision ultimately resulted in the death of the teen. But it was what VanWagener did afterward that had everybody outraged: He posted a photo of accident and joked about it, adding a smiley face as a finishing touch.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported July 31 that Michael VanWagner logged on to his Facebook page on Saturday, July 26, and uploaded a photo of his totaled car. The caption read: “That’s her front end after I got done with her lol.” The joke was followed by a smiley face.
He added a second photo, captioned: “I’m all good slept a day in the hospital then came home and did yard work lol.”
Two days later, young Jason McCarthy, who had been struggling to live on life support since the car crash, was declared dead, police reported. An honors student, McCarthy would have been a bass player in his high school band and a member of the cross country team.
In his defense, VanWagner told the StarTribune after his arrest, “I didn’t even know I hit somebody. I just thought I hit something.”
Eight days after totalling a car in the middle of the day, Michael VanWagner had been oblivious to the fact that he had even injured another human being. To make matters worse, it appears that he never bothered to simply ask about the particulars of his two vehicular accidents.
The Minnesota state trooper who caught up with VanWagner after the second collision reported that the “odor of alcoholic beverage was noticed,” according to spokesperson State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow.
Police arrested Michael VanWagner, 24, on July 30 for Driving Under the Influence. Charges are still pending, dependent on results from a blood alcohol test.
The insensitive photos and captions were removed from Facebook shortly after VanWagner discovered that his alleged drunk driving had resulted in the death of Jason McCarthy.
But, as The Raw Story reported, VanWagner, just after being released by authorities, posted a photo of a man being pulled over by a police officer. The caption reads, “Any drugs or alcohol?” positioned beside the officer’s head. The driver is captioned as replying, “No, thanks. I have everything.” The exchange plays off of the fact that the officer is writing the driver a citation of some sort, looking very much like a restaurant waiter taking an order.
It would appear that VanWagner does not understand insensitivity or inappropriateness…
However, he understands that he’s facing possible prison time. He says he will spend as much time with his 18-month-old child as he can until he learns his fate.
Sadly, Jason McCarthy’s parents will no longer have an option of spending time with their son.
It is unclear when Michael VanWagner will be arraigned.
Minnesota state records obtained by the Star Tribune indicate that VanWagner was driving after having had his license revoked. He had numerous citations for previous acts of careless driving. And he has a felony conviction for making “terroristic threats,” for which he is on probation. One of the conditions of his probation: Abstain from consuming alcohol or illicit drugs.
It is also unclear if VanWagner will be charged in the death of Jason McCarthy.