Police lights

A 23-year-old Chippewa Falls man is charged with stealing a pickup truck and drunken driving it into another vehicle, injuring a man in Eau Claire.

Eau Claire County Judge Michael Schumacher ordered a high cash bond of $20,000 for Byer W. Nevins, 627 W. Central St., who faces six felony charges and three misdemeanors for the events that took place on Wednesday.

The most severe of those offenses, hit-and-run causing great bodily harm, is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

According to the criminal complaint:

Nevins and a 14-year-old acquaintance went “car shopping” on Wednesday morning — looking for unlocked cars with keys in them — on Pomona Drive in the town of Washington. They found a Chevy Silverado with the keys inside, and Nevins drove to pick up a 16-year-old friend. The trio then went to Bloomer to switch license plates with another vehicle. Surveillance video from a Bloomer convenience store showed the three stopping to put gas into the truck.

With Nevins driving, the trio returned to Eau Claire and were involved in two hit-and-run incidents reported on the city’s north side. One of those crashes injured a man in his early 70s, breaking his sternum and back when the Silverado rear-ended his Mercury Grand Marquis at about 7:50 a.m. on the North Crossing.

The truck sped away from the crash site, but witnesses then reported seeing it in the vicinity. They told police three people got out of the truck, wiped down the sides and threw a bottle of alcohol into bushes before running away.

Police apprehended Nevins and the teens shortly afterward. When police found Nevins, he was having trouble standing, smelled of alcohol and had bloodshot eyes. Officers took him to Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire for medical clearance and a blood draw to determine his alcohol level.

The juveniles told police that Nevins had been driving the whole time.

Nevins had drunken driving convictions in 2016 and 2018 in Chippewa County, plus other pending cases that required that he not consume alcohol while out on bond. His driving privileges also had been revoked.

In addition to the nine charges tied to Wednesday’s events, Nevins faces another misdemeanor bail jumping charge because an officer found him passed out in a patch of grass alongside a road with a bottle of beer in his hand on Tuesday afternoon in Eau Claire.

Contact: 715-833-9204, andrew.dowd@ecpc.com, @ADowd_LT on Twitter