Reporting John Lauritsen
POLK COUNTY, Wis. (WCCO) — Police say a Stillwater man accused of driving drunk, causing a crash, then taking off and he had his 5-year-old son in the car the whole time.
Erik Steinkraus, 24, has been convicted of DWI’s twice in Minnesota. He now faces felony charges in Wisconsin, including child endangerment and hit-and-run.
Just after 11 p.m. last Friday night, Steinkraus allegedly rear-ended a truck with his suburban at the intersection of Highway 35 and Highway 8 in Polk County, Wis.
After agreeing to meet the other driver at a gas station to exchange insurance information, Steinkraus instead took off, making a U-turn and driving north on Highway 35, according to police. He didn’t get far.
Steinkraus ended up at a nearby rest stop. A sheriff’s deputy responding to that accident found him sitting in the suburban with his 5-year-old son.
Steinkraus admitted to the deputy that he hit the other vehicle and that he had been drinking. After failing a sobriety test, he was arrested.
According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Department, his blood alcohol registered at 0.19 in jail, which is more than twice the legal limit in Wisconsin.
His son was eventually picked up by a family member.
“It’s frustrating for us that someone whose been drinking will bring their 5-year-old child with them and endanger them,” said Captain Steve Smith.
In this case, law enforcement feel extremely fortunate that the boy, the other driver and Steinkraus himself weren’t seriously hurt.
“Luckily, in this case, no one was injured. It was a low-speed crash. I guess I would characterize it as, ‘we got lucky this time,’” said Smith.
Steinkraus’ father said his son wouldn’t comment on the incident.
If convicted, Steinkraus could face thousands of dollars in fines and jail time.