Pine Co. Man Accused of Deliberately Driving into River, Killing Passenger

Updated: September 19, 2019 07:36 AM

A Willow River man is charged with criminal vehicular homicide after he allegedly drove his vehicle into a river after using methamphetamines, killing a passenger.

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The incident happened Monday afternoon on the Kettle River, south of Willow River.  Rescuers found the body of Eugene Oestreich inside of a Ford Escape submerged in about 14 feet of water.

According to a criminal complaint, 43-year-old Preston Paul Prokasky told authorities that he had driven the vehicle into the river, saying that he did not know the river was so deep and thought he could make it across.  Prokasky and one passenger escaped from the vehicle, but Oestreich did not.

The complaint alleges that Prokasky told authorities that he and the other men had used meth earlier in the day. He allegedly said that Oestreich had been living with him but that he had kicked him out the night before.

According to the complaint, Prokasky said that when the vehicle began to float, Oestreich told him he could not swim.  Oestreich remained in the vehicle when Prokasky and the other passenger escaped through a window.

"The driver and one passenger were able to get out of the car. They were yelling for help, somebody on shore called 911," said Pine County Chief Deputy Sheriff Paul Widenstrom.

Widenstrom says this incident serves as a reminder to all of us to drive responsibly.

"Intoxicants, drugs and alcohol when you're driving don't mix. They just don't go together. Your ability to comprehend what's going and react to situations is going to hamper you and the end result is what we're seeing here, somebody died," said Widenstrom.

And for one family, that somebody was a loved one.

"It's very tragic. You got someone whose got family from the area, and now he's not going home, and they're probably asking the same questions why." 

Prokasky was charged Wednesday with two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide.

He remains in the Pine County Jail, and bail has been set at $250,000.

His next court appearance is set for September 24.

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