Family hopes alleged drunken driver helps others learn from his mistakes

Sauk Co. judge set bail at $50K for driver
Family hopes alleged drunken driver helps others learn from his mistakes

A Sauk County judge set bail at $50,000 cash for the man accused of drunken driving and killing his friend.

Kevin Vaness appeared in court for the first time Wednesday. The district attorney argued bail should be higher given his two prior operating while intoxicated convictions that were nine days apart.

The 22-year-old faces four charges in the death of Benjamin Brooks, and up to 52 years in prison.

Investigators said the motorcycle Brooks was driving had stopped at the intersection of Gall and Old Lake roads when Vaness’ Jeep rear-ended the motorcycle Sunday.

The motorcycle was pushed through the intersection, and Brooks and his passenger were thrown off the bike. The Jeep kept going, left the road and hit a retaining wall.

Brooks and his passenger, Tory Frenzel, were flown to University of Wisconsin Hospital for treatment. Brooks died Monday and Frenzel is in critical condition.

The DA said the three men were friends and had been bar hopping.

Brooks’ sisters attended court and told News3 he was a responsible, small business owner who leaves behind a young son and wife.

“People just need to stop and dedicate drivers or they need a better taxi system,” said Jessica Brooks. “They need to come up with some system in these rural areas.”

Jessica Brooks is a mental health counselor and going to school to be a psychologist. She credits her training to be able to forgive Vaness. She wants to dedicate her life to preventing drunk driving tragedies and suggest Vaness join her.

Family hopes alleged drunk driver helps others learn from his mistakes

“Maybe go to schools and speak out about what happened, and what were the repercussions for his actions so others can learn from him,” said Jessica Brooks.

Vaness’ mother refused our interview request. Her son is due back for a preliminary hearing Sept. 10.

Ben Brooks’ sisters also started fundraising to support his family and pay off lingering medical bills. If you’d like donate, click here.