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Bail set for Superior police sergeant accused of vehicular homicide

Gregory M. Swanson, 42, of Solon Springs, faces one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

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Douglas County Circuit Court, Superior, Wisconsin.
Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram
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SUPERIOR — A 15-year veteran of the Superior Police Department appeared for a bail hearing in Douglas County Circuit Court Monday, July 18, in connection with a fatal vehicle crash Friday, July 15.

Gregory M. Swanson, 42, of Solon Springs, faces one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Swanson was off duty at the time of the crash.

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Gregory Matthew Swanson
Contributed / Douglas County Jail

The criminal complaint was filed just minutes before the hearing. Defense attorney Chris Gramstrup asked to adjourn Swanson’s initial appearance until he had time to review the charge and speak with his client.

Cash bail of $15,000 was set for Swanson, with the conditions that he have no contact with the victim’s family or occupants of the vehicle that was struck. He was ordered not to use or possess any alcohol and not operate a motor vehicle without a valid license or permit.

Wisconsin Assistant Attorney General Tara Jenswold, who is serving as special prosecutor for the case, told Douglas County Circuit Court Judge George Glonek she anticipated filing additional charges against Swanson once she is able to confirm the medical status of other occupants of the vehicle.

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“I know there will be at least another felony charge, if not more,” Jenswold told the court.

Glonek said he took into account Swanson’s ties to the community — he is a married father of four, a 27-year resident of Douglas County, a landlord with rentals in Solon Springs and Superior, and has served with the Superior Police Department for 15 years — when setting bail.

Swanson appeared via video from the Bayfield County Jail. Numerous members of the Superior Police Department, including Police Chief Nicholas Alexander, attended the hearing in person.

According to the criminal complaint, a vehicle Swanson was driving struck a disabled sedan with no lights in the right lane of the 5200 block of East Second Street at about 1:17 a.m. Friday. One man was reported dead at the scene of the crash. The other occupants of the vehicle included a woman, an infant and a 2-year-old child.

After striking the vehicle, Swanson reportedly drove to the Holiday Gas Station roughly four blocks away. A witness at the gas station told Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Eli Newton they saw Swanson get out of his vehicle with a six pack of alcoholic beverages and throw them into a garbage can, the criminal complaint said.

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Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Dana Jensen spoke to Swanson at the gas station. Jensen reported that Swanson’s eyes were glossy and bloodshot and that she detected a strong odor of intoxicants coming from him. Swanson told her he had two beers and one mixed drink between midnight and 1:30 a.m., and that he did not see the vehicle in the right lane until he collided with it, according to the criminal complaint.

Swanson showed signs of impairment on a number of field sobriety tests and was transported to Essentia Health for a blood draw. Results of the test were not included in the criminal complaint and the complaint did not say that a breathalyzer was performed.

Glonek set Swanson’s initial appearance for July 26. The judge said he presided over Monday’s bail hearing because Court Commissioner Rebecca Lovejoy did not feel comfortable doing so. He said he may end up recusing himself, as well.

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“So we can set it for another hearing and hopefully by that time it gets figured out,” Glonek said.

The class C felony carries a maximum penalty of up to 25 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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