Reno woman faces vehicular homicide charge

A red Toyota Tacoma involved in a Feb. 28, 2020, fatality.

A red Toyota Tacoma involved in a Feb. 28, 2020, fatality.

A Reno woman facing a charge of felony vehicular homicide in connection with a 2020 fatal collision has a record of drunken driving convictions.

Joan Kathryn Wenger, 66, is the subject of a warrant issued out of East Fork Justice Court last month.

She also faces a charge of driving under the influence causing a collision with substantial bodily harm.

The warrant was issued in mid-December after the Nevada Highway Patrol submitted its investigation into the case.

Accident investigators have been back out at the scene near Johnson Lane and Highway 395.

A 70-year-old Dayton woman was killed when Wenger allegedly failed to stop and ran into the rear of a northbound 1995 Toyota 4Runner.

NHP investigators reported finding a half-full bottle of Black Velvet whiskey in the cab of Wenger’s Toyota Tacoma.

According to court documents, Wenger told a trooper she was driving from Mammoth Lakes and had three beers.

A preliminary breath test indicated a .291 blood alcohol content, while a later blood test showed a .308. The legal limit in Nevada is .08.

Wenger’s license was suspended for failure to have proof of insurance. According to the NHP, Wenger’s driving privileges had been withdrawn 26 times since 2000.

Wenger has driving under the influence convictions in November 2009 in Tahoe Township, June 2012 in Ely and October 2018 in Washoe County. In Nevada a third DUI conviction in seven years is a felony.

Witnesses told troopers the red pickup Wenger was driving was speeding up and slowing down and attempted to pass a truck on the right verge before passing it to the left.

The driver of the 4Runner said he saw Wenger’s headlines coming up behind him at speed and attempted to speed up to reduce the collision.

He said he remembered being hit and then waking up to find himself upside down and his 70-year-old mother no longer in the vehicle. He climbed from the wreckage and found her lying on the pavement where she’d been thrown.

Dayton resident Laura Staugaard was killed in the collision. Her son received a fractured vertebra as a result. Wenger was transported for treatment and then released and taken into custody three hours after the collision.

Staugaard was one of six people who died on the highways in Douglas County during 2020. Three of those deaths involved impaired drivers, according to the Nevada Highway Patrol.


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