On March 13, 2015, after an afternoon of drinking, Channing Mathews of Sparta lost control of his 1998 Pontiac Grand Am on Hwy. 71 in Monroe County. It rolled and wrapped around a tree. His 26-year-old passenger Ryan Johnson died instantly.
Monroe County Judge Mark Goodman on Monday sentenced 25-year-old Mathews to five years in prison and five years on extended supervision for homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle causing death and second-offense drunken driving.
Special prosecutor Tara Jenswold said that although Mathews didn’t intend to kill Johnson, there was a series of intentional choices made leading up to the crash.
Mathews was racing and trying to pass a vehicle on the highway about 7 p.m. when he swerved to avoid crashing head-on into a car full of teenagers, lost control and left the road at 103 mph.
Mathews told authorities that Johnson was behind the wheel and fleeing police, but a crash construction and DNA identified Mathews as the driver. He had a 0.07 percent alcohol level and marijuana in his blood three hours after the crash.