State Patrol: Teen Was Driving 85+ MPH in Crash That Killed CCA Student
By Vanessa Miller, Reporter
TIFFIN, Iowa — The vehicle involved in the October collision near Tiffin that killed 14-year-old Clear Creek Amana High School student Mackenzie Lown was going more than 85 mph at the time of the crash, according to an unsealed search warrant affidavit.
“Such a speed, particularly with five passengers, indicates willful or wanton disregard for the safety of people or property,” according to the affidavit, which was sealed in October.
Zachary Swenka, an 18-year-old Clear Creek Amana High School student at the time, was driving Lown and five other teenagers in his 1996 Chevrolet Lumina after 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, according to court documents. They were headed east on Highway 6, west of Tiffin, when the Lumina crossed over the centerline into oncoming traffic and collided with a 2010 Honda Odyssey van, according to the affidavit.
Lown was ejected and suffered fatal injuries, according to the Iowa State Patrol.
Swenka has not been charged in the case, but Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said she only recently received the full investigative report from the State Patrol, and her office now is considering whether to file charges against the teenage driver.
According to the affidavit, technical investigators at the scene of the crash used tire mark evidence to calculate the “pre-impact speed” of the Lumina. In an effort to ensure accuracy, three collision investigators recorded roadway evidence, interpreted the tire marks and calculated the speed of the vehicle “independently of one another,” according to the affidavit.
Their findings were consistent, according to the court documents.
“Those calculations prove that the speed of the Chevrolet Lumina was greater than 30 miles per hour above the posted speed limit of 55 mph,” the affidavit shows.
Lown’s parents, Michael Lown and Kelly Smith, have filed lawsuits against both Swenka and the Clear Creek Amana School District in connection with their daughter’s death. The lawsuit against Swenka has been dismissed, and the suit against the school district is pending.
In the couple’s lawsuit against Swenka, they accuse the teen of traveling at an “extremely high rate of speed while traveling an ‘S’ curve and crossing a bridge.” They estimate the teen was going 100 mph in a 55 mph zone when he veered to the right and then swerved back left, crossing the centerline, according to the original lawsuit.
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