Mequon man charged; fatal crash that killed his own brother, 15

An 18-year-old Mequon man faces charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, and OWI (1st with passenger under 16 years old) in connection with a fatal crash that happened in Mequon early Sunday, July 2. The accused is John Benske.

John Benske

The crash happened around 2 a.m. Sunday at River Road and Le Mont Boulevard in Mequon. Police said it involved a single vehicle headed north on River Road. The driver lost control of the vehicle while negotiating a curve, causing the vehicle to cross the center line and strike a tree. 

Benske was arrested after being spotted running in the roadway. Police got in touch with Benske who said "his brother needed help," the complaint says. Despite life-saving measures, the 15-year-old boy died. 

Mequon fatal car crash

While in a police squad, an officer "could smell the overwhelming odor of intoxicants coming from his person. Benske made a statement that his little brother had been drinking and that they had switched who was driving before the crash" the complaint says. 

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At the crash scene, officers spotted a red SUV with major front-end damage and all interior airbags deployed. The complaint says there "were tire marks on the roadway that indicated that the (SUV) had failed to negotiate a curve in the roadway, and it appeared the vehicle had overcorrected and then gone into the west ditch where it struck a tree."

Mequon fatal car crash

Benske was taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

Neighborhood in shock

"It's just a tragedy. So many lives affected. It's shocking that it would be right here," said Jeff Millard, who lives near the crash scene. "It's supposed to be 25 miles per hour on the corner and people regularly do much more than that…It's a dangerous corner. 

In Ozaukee County court on Monday, the judge set bail for Benske at $20,000. 

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Benske's lawyer said his mother and two other siblings are grieving. If convicted, Benske faces up to 26 years in prison.

"My son is 14, and I just think how easy it would be to make one mistake. I just feel so bad for all of them," Millard said.