(Columbus) An Appleton man is facing a vehicular homicide charge related to a multi-vehicle crash near Columbus last May. Benjamin Birney is also charged with two felony counts of Injury By Intoxicated Use of a Controlled Substance and three misdemeanors for the incident that occurred during the evening drive in the northbound lanes of Highway 151, near the Highway 73 overpass. The 34-year-old allegedly had marijuana in his system. Thirty-eight-year-old David Bickel of Mukwonago died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Birney was driving a Freightliner straight truck that failed to reduce speed as it encountered slower moving traffic in a construction zone. Birney first collided with a minivan before crashing into a pick-up truck. The driver of the minivan was not injured but Columbus Fire personnel had to remove the driver and one passenger in the pick-up, and they were flown from the scene by Med Flight to UW Hospital in Madison. Bickel was the other passenger in the pick-up and he was pronounced dead at the scene. Birney’s truck then pushed the pick-up into a car, then another minivan and finally an SUV. In total, Birney’s truck crashed into five vehicles; ten people were involved, two escaped injury.
A signature bond was set at $500 Wednesday and Birney has a pre-trial conference on the calendar next month.