An Onalaska man once charged with vehicular homicide in the death of his girlfriend drove his pickup truck off a bike trial and into a slough early Saturday, according to reports.
John P. Marshall, 29, was still “somewhat intoxicated” when authorities made contact with him hours after the crash, according to a La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department report released Thursday, but there were not sufficient grounds for field sobriety testing.
A passerby discovered the unoccupied truck partially submerged in a slough off the Great River State Bike Trail about one mile north of Lytle’s Landing in the town of Onalaska and alerted authorities about 8:30 a.m., the report stated.
Deputies tracked Marshall to a friend’s house on Hwy. ZB. He told authorities he left that house and drove north on the bike trail between midnight and 3 a.m. and into the slough before he escaped the truck when it overturned, according to the report.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is investigating.
Prosecutors on March 18 charged Marshall with vehicular homicide in connection with the death of his longtime girlfriend, 27-year-old Miranda Roellich.
Marshall was operating a snowmobile Jan. 23 in the town of Onalaska west of Lytle’s Landing when Roellich struck her head on a tree hanging across the trail, throwing her from the vehicle, according to the complaint filed in La Crosse County Circuit Court. He had a 0.09 percent blood alcohol concentration.
Marshall wasn’t able to spell his girlfriend’s name or state the correct time of night. He told authorities he drank six beers throughout the day and that he shouldn’t have been driving the snowmobile, according to the complaint.
A judge on April 11 dismissed charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and with a prohibited alcohol concentration during his preliminary hearing, finding prosecutors did not present enough evidence to substantiate the charge.
“The issue long-term is going to be whether the accident would have happened regardless of whether Mr. Marshall was drinking,” Circuit Judge Ramona Gonzalez said. “If it’s just because he was on the trail, that’s kind of a weak case.”
Prosecutors are considering whether to re-file charges in the case.