Not guilty pleas in crash that sent Austin teen to hospital

Published 2:05 pm Thursday, August 17, 2023

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Wyatt Hamlin makes some progress in recovery


The man behind the wheel of a vehicle involved in an alleged drunk-driving crash that sent an Austin teen to the hospital with severe head and neck injuries in July has entered pleas in the case.

Jeffers Lorenzo, 23, pleaded not guilty to all six charges leveled against him, which includes two felony counts of criminal vehicular operation-great bodily harm — one for being under the influence of alcohol and the other for leaving the scene of a collision.

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He’s also been charged with gross misdemeanors of criminal vehicular operation causing bodily harm and leaving the scene of a collision, criminal vehicular operation causing bodily harm under the influence of alcohol, reckless driving and a single misdemeanor count of fourth degree DWI.

Lorenzo, who is still in Mower County Jail on $250,000 bail with no conditions and $150,000 with conditions, entered his pleas Thursday morning in Mower County District Court.

According to court documents, Lorenzo allegedly admitted to being behind the wheel of a gray SUV that struck a second SUV driven by 16-year-old Wyatt Hamlin, who was later transported by air to Mayo Clinic in Rochester and spent the following days in a medically induced coma.

Witnesses at the scene of the crash, which took place on the evening of July 28, told police that some inside the SUV that struck Hamlin’s vehicle fled the scene after the crash. One of the occupants was discovered in the boulevard near where the crash took place. A third was discovered later that night after passing out due to high levels of alcohol consumption.

Lorenzo, himself, later discovered laying on the ground next to a house near the scene. When police apprehended him he allegedly admitted to both being the driver as well as having consumed several beers that evening prior to the crash.

At the hospital Lorenzo said that he had been traveling at around 50 mph at the time of the crash. A preliminary test indicated a .20 blood alcohol content.

Wyatt Hamlin. Photo provided

On the WyattStrong Facebook Page, an update was posted Wednesday from Sheila White, Hamlin’s mom, that a CT scan earlier this week showed decreased swelling and that his brain has started shifting back to where it was.

The post also said he was able to make eye contact with her.