Vehicle strikes house, leading to OWI arrest

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May 25—SUPERIOR — A Lake Nebagamon man is facing a charge of operating while impaired after the truck he was driving allegedly struck a house in the town of Superior.

Howard Bruce Wheeler Jr., 47, faces one count of eighth-offense operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. He made an initial appearance in Douglas County Circuit Court May 18.

A $10,000 cash bond was set for Wheeler, and he was ordered not to drive at all and not to use or possess drugs or drug paraphernalia. He remained in the Douglas County Jail on Wednesday, May 24.

Deputy Spencer Severson with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a residence on South Dopp Road at 5:37 a.m. May 17 for a reported crash with injury. He saw a truck resting in the yard with heavy front-end damage. The residence was also damaged with siding visibly broken off, according to the criminal complaint.

Wheeler was in the driver's seat of the truck, the criminal complaint said. He reportedly told Severson that he thought he was on Douglas County Road K. He passed out on and off while talking to the deputy. When told he had driven into a house, Wheeler reportedly said "No, you're kidding me."

Severson noted that the Lake Nebagamon man exhibited other behaviors consistent with methamphetamine use, including occasionally flailing his arms and screaming; clenching his fists at times; and making erratic movements.

Wheeler was taken by ambulance from the scene. A sedative given to Wheeler seemed to bring him back to "normal" instead of having a more powerful effect, the emergency medical technician told Severson, indicating he was under the influence of some substance.

When questioned by Severson, Wheeler reportedly said he had been leaving Superior's South End neighborhood and thought he was on County Road K. He told the deputy he was going 90 mph when he went into the ditch. He told Severson the last time he had taken methamphetamine was three days prior, according to the criminal complaint.

The homeowner told Sgt. Robert Stachovich with the sheriff's office that they woke to the house being struck and saw a man sitting in a truck outside.

Wheeler has seven prior operating while under the influence convictions, according to the criminal complaint: one out of North Carolina and the rest in Washburn, Sawyer and Douglas counties. His most recent conviction was in 2009.

The next court appearance for Wheeler was set for June 6. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 12 and a half years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.