Wausau woman awaits sentencing on 2020 car crash death


A 25-year-old Wausau woman pleaded guilty last week to two felony counts related to a car crash that killed an 81-year-old Ellsworth woman in February 2020.

McKenna Jene Fell, formerly of La Crescent, Minn., pleaded guilty to felony homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle and felony injury by intoxicated use/vehicle Jan. 25 in Pierce County Circuit Court. Felony homicide by use of vehicle with PAC, felony homicide by negligent operation/vehicle and felony injury by use of vehicle with PAC charges were dismissed.

Fell, who was 22 at the time of the crash, was booked into Pierce County Jail until her May 4 sentencing hearing, scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Prosecutors are asking for five years in prison and seven years of extended supervision for count one and two years in prison and three years of extended supervision (concurrent) for count two. The victims’ family requested Fell be ordered to perform 100 hours of community service per year in a nursing home or similar facility when on extended supervision. They also asked she be ordered to maintain full-time work, school, treatment, or volunteering and attendance to victim empathy courses and impact panels.

According to the complaint: Pierce County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to a two-vehicle crash at 5:28 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 at US Highway 63 and County Road Y in the town of Martell (Wiff’s Corner). Dispatch advised two people were unconscious and one vehicle was on fire.

When police arrived, debris was scattered across the roadway and a group of people stood near a silver Buick Envision. A woman, identified as Dorothy Nelson, 81, Ellsworth, was trapped in the passenger seat and unresponsive. Her husband, Gerald B. Nelson, 90, Ellsworth, was in the driver’s seat. He was moving and talking to those gathered around the vehicle.

Fell, who had been driving a red Kia Rio, was pinned inside by her dash and steering wheel column. She was in and out of consciousness, according to bystanders, and had to be extricated from the vehicle.

A witness, who had been heading north on Highway 63, said Fell had been behind him for quite some time. He described her driving as erratic; he said she was swerving all over the road and going varying speeds. Near Wiff’s Corner, she swerved into the oncoming lane and struck the Nelsons’ Buick head on, which was heading south on Highway 63.

Dorothy Nelson was declared dead at the scene. An ambulance transported Gerald Nelson to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with serious injuries, while a Lifelink Helicopter took Fell there with serious injuries as well.

During the investigation, police found several opened White Claws in the passenger seat, plus several that had rolled onto the pavement. An empty prescription bottle of Fluoxetine was also located in the center console area. EMS told police Fell smelled of intoxicants. She still had a wristband on from Gunderson Hospital.

Fell’s blood alcohol content level, taken by a blood draw at the hospital, registered a .228.

Gerald Nelson was in the hospital for eight days. He died one year later in March 2021.