Tara Appleton.jpg

Tara Appleton

Tara Lynn Appleton admitted to law enforcement she was under the influence of alcohol when Decorah Preston allegedly climbed on top of a moving truck and fell off and hit the ground.

The Burnett County Sheriff’s Office reported, “Initial Autopsy results revealed that Decorah died from head injuries consistent with a fall from a moving vehicle.”

Appleton, 31, Webster, has been charged with First and second degree reckless homicide, homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and hit and run – resulting in death, all four are felony charges.

Information from the initial investigation suggest he was riding on top of a moving vehicle when he fell off and was left on the road for an hour, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

According to the criminal complaint, Appleton admitting to drinking alcohol at a party and driving the truck that Decorah allegedly fell off of that led to his death sometime between March 29 and 30.

She told law enforcement the incident began at the intersection of Eagle Feather Drive.

“Preston must have crawled out the window as she was slowing and he got on top of the truck,” the complaint alleges. “Appleton states as she started to accelerate from the stop sign, she saw Preston sliding down the front of the truck and rolled down and fell onto the ground.”

Appleton told officers Decorah was bloody but was laughing and that he would not get up.

She then, with help from Nathaniel Reynolds got Decorah in the bed of the truck and brought him back to the party.

Appleton said when they returned to the house that Decorah fell when trying to get out of the truck and was left there.

Authorities then asked if she had been drinking that night and if she was driving under the influence.

“Appleton stated of course she was under the influence of alcohol when she was driving,” the complaint stated.

The narrative in the complaint says on March 30, Burnett County dispatch received a call from a woman saying Preston Decorah was laying in her driveway on Eagle Feather Drive in the Town of Sand Lake.

St. Croix/Hertel First Responders arrived on scene and believed Decorah had suffered from head trauma. He was then transported to Spooner Hospital and later to Regions Hospital where he died.

Burnett County Deputies were in the process of interviewing witnesses. One woman told authorities Decorah “had been at her house drinking and he had left the residence with Tara Appleton and Nathaniel Reynolds.” She continued to say she saw Decorah laying in her driveway around 8:35 a.m. when she then called 911 to report it.

Reynolds, 30, Webster, and Elijah Benjamin, 21, Webster have since both been charged with Duty to aid victim or report crime, a class C misdemeanor, according to online court records.

The complaint continues to say a pair of witnesses showed authorities evidence of communicating with Decorah throughout the evening.

Officers with Burnett County Sheriff’s Office spoke with St. Croix/Hertel First Responders who said the call came in at 9:17 a.m. and they observed Decorah laying on the side of the driveway, covered in blankets, about halfway between the house and the road.

Decorah’s breathing was shallow, he had dried blood around his mouth and first responders noted what looked like a bruise around his right eye.

First degree reckless homicide is defined as “Whoever recklessly causes the death of another human being under circumstances which show utter disregard for human life.” It is a class B felony and carries a maximum sentence of 60 years in prison.

Second degree reckless homicide, a class D felony is “Whoever recklessly causes the death of another human being” and carries a maximum sentence of $100,000 fine and possibly 25 years in prison. Homicide by intoxicated use and hit and run – resulting in death are both class D felonies with the same penalties.

Appleton remains in the Burnett County Jail and is scheduled to have her preliminary hearing April 28 in front of Judge Melissia Mogen.