Sheriff: Drunken driver hits tree, passenger killed

Officials said a 78-year-old woman died after the car she was riding in struck a tree near Poynette Saturday night.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office said Caroline Hebel, of Poynette, was a passenger in a 1996 Chevrolet Blazer that was traveling on County Highway J at 7:15 p.m. According to the report, 47-year-old Barbara Dorshorst, of rural Poynette, was driving the SUV north when the vehicle left the roadway to the right while negotiating a curve to the left. The Blazer hit a tree.

Dorshorst was wearing a seat belt but Hebel was not, the sheriff’s department said.

The report said Hebel was taken from the scene to meet with Med Flight but was pronounced dead by the Columbia County Medical Examiner before being flown in the helicopter.

Dorshorst was not injured in the crash, the sheriff’s department said. She was taken to Columbia County Jail and tentatively charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

The crash is still under investigation.

The report also noted Dorshorst’s airbag deployed in the crash.