Superior police sergeant faces homicide charge in off-duty crash

Special prosecutor says more charges likely to be filed

Superior Police Department
The Superior Police Department in Superior, Wisconsin. Danielle Kaeding/WPR

A 15-year veteran with the Superior Police Department prosecutors say was driving drunk is facing up to 25 years in prison after an off-duty crash that killed a father and his infant son.

Sgt. Greg Swanson, 42, of Solon Springs is charged with one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. The prosecutor on the case is expected to file additional charges.

According to the criminal complaint, Swanson crashed into a disabled vehicle occupied by a man and woman, a 2-year-old and an infant on July 15. According to KBJR-TV, the family was headed home from a birthday party when their car ran out of gas. While the woman and two young sons stayed in the vehicle, Michael Evans, 23, was outside pushing the car when it was struck from behind. Evans, 23, died at the scene. The 2-month-old infant, Elijah Ojanen, died Tuesday after being taken off life support, according to a report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.

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Swanson hit the disabled sedan of the 5200 block of East 2nd Street at about 1:17 a.m. on July 15. According to the complaint, after the collision, Swanson drove to a nearby gas station then contacted police dispatch. The Douglas County Sheriff’s deputy who arrived at the gas station reported that Swanson had glossy and bloodshot eyes with a strong odor of alcohol.

Swanson told the deputy he had two beers and a mixed drink since midnight and had not seen the vehicle until colliding with it. A witness interviewed at the gas station said he saw Swanson enter the parking lot after the collision and watched him throw a six-pack into a garbage can before entering. The sheriff’s deputy observed five cans of hard seltzer in the garbage.

After failing several field sobriety tests, the deputy arrested Swanson and transported him to a nearby hospital for a blood draw. The complaint does not detail the results of the test.

Defense attorney Chris Gramstrup asked to adjourn an initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court on Monday until he had reviewed and discussed the charge with his client, according to online court records. Gramstrup requested bail be set at $10,000 or $15,000 for Swanson, citing his community ties and no prior criminal record. Judge George Glonek set a cash bail amount of $15,000 for Swanson at a Monday hearing, ordering him to have no contact with the victim’s family or other occupants of the vehicle.

Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold, a special prosecutor assigned to the case, said additional charges will likely be filed.

Swanson is set to appear again in court on July 26 at 2 p.m.