Prosecutors: Man said he 'fell asleep' before crashing into tree, killing son after celebrating his birthday
Nicholas Dischler

By Katie DeLong and Bret Lemoine, WITI

PEWAUKEE, Wis. -- (WITI) -- A Pewaukee father is facing charges, accused in connection with the death of his 3-year-old son, which happened Sunday, July 15 in Pewaukee -- where the vehicle he was driving struck a tree. The child died at the hospital. Prosecutors say the father told investigators he "fell asleep" after celebrating his son's third birthday at a campground over the weekend.

Nicholas Dischler, 25, of Pewaukee, faces one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, one count of OWI, causing injury (first offense) and one count of OWI with a minor child in the vehicle, first offense. He appeared in court for the first time on Wednesday, July 18 -- and a request to attend his son's funeral was denied -- leading to cries from the gallery.

The crash happened shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday at Prospect and Rocky Point Road in Pewaukee -- where prosecutors say the vehicle Dischler was driving struck the tree. A 24-year-old woman was in the front passenger seat at the time of the crash. Their 3-year-old son was found not breathing and without a pulse in the back seat of the vehicle. He was taken to Children's Hospital -- where he was pronounced dead.

A criminal complaint says a car seat was found on the left side of the rear passenger seat -- not secured to the vehicle. A first responder said he saw the boy on the back seat of the vehicle with "only the lap portion of a regular seat belt on him, with the strap behind him -- not in a car seat."

Because investigators say the child was not secured in the vehicle, dispatch audio shows there was some confusion at the scene.

Dispatch audio: "One male is outside the vehicle bleeding. The female in the street can't move. A child is also inside the vehicle at this point."

Dispatch audio: "There's a child sleeping in the back seat."

Moments later, there were requests for a supervisor.

Dispatch audio: "I need a supervisor on scene. The child is not doing well."

Prosecutors say Dischler said he "fell asleep and woke up after the crash."

He said he and the woman and their two children -- the 3-year-old and a 5-year-old -- had been staying at the Ottawa Campgrounds since Friday, July 13, and he said he "drank 10-12 beers sometime before sunset on Saturday and 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. on Sunday." He said he slept from 2 a.m. until 4 a.m. and they left the campsite around 6 a.m. Sunday. He said the child was placed in a car seat and buckled in before they left the campsite. He told investigators he had a handgun in the center console of the vehicle -- "secured for safekeeping."

Investigators noted an odor of intoxicants coming from Dischler. He was arrested for OWI. He was taken to the hospital from the scene for a medical evaluation -- and a blood draw.

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