'Unconscious behind the wheel:' Driver charged, accused of running over man who was panhandling

Todd Swessel

MILWAUKEE -- A 47-year-old Milwaukee man has been charged in connection with a fatal crash that happened near 25th Street and Clybourn Street Tuesday night, Feb. 11. Todd Swessel is accused of running over a 37-year-old man police said was panhandling. Swessel is facing one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle.

According to the criminal complaint, Milwaukee police responded to the scene around 6:30 p.m. after receiving a 911 call of a pedestrian-vehicle collision with a person pinned underneath an SUV.

Upon arrival, police located a Toyota4Runner SUV partially on the median with the driver, later identified as Todd Swessel, unconscious behind the wheel with a open can of beer in his lap.

Pedestrian struck 25th and Clybourn in Milwaukee

Officials say the victim, identified by the medical examiner as Nathan Garski, was in the median when witnesses saw the driver of an SUV asleep at the wheel. His vehicle rolled backward, and Garski was run over. He died at the scene. Next to his body was a sign reading, "Homeless and hungry."

The medical examiner's report said there were "several cans of beer" in the Toyota4Runner SUV that struck Garski -- which had been parked on a hill about 50 feet from the intersection, facing north. The report said Garski was facing south and did not see the truck.

Pedestrian struck 25th and Clybourn in Milwaukee

Swessel told investigating officers that he had consumed four beers, snorted some heroin and also smoked synthetic marijuana prior to the collision. Swessel stated that he had no idea how he got to that location and had no memory of running over a pedestrian.

Swessel made his initial appearance in court on Sunday, Feb. 16. He is due back in court Wednesday, Feb. 26 for his preliminary hearing.