Bluffton man convicted in fatal DUI wreck
A 28-year-old Bluffton man has been convicted in a 2017 fatal drunken driving collision that killed one man and seriously injured another motorist.
Nikolai Kovalesvsky Wheeler pleaded guilty Friday to hit and run involving a death and driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury. The charges stemmed from the April 14, 2017, wreck that killed Cullen Mieczkowski, 34, of Bluffton and seriously injured of Kareem Simmons of Ridgeland.
Wheeler was sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Mieczkowski was struck and killed on May River Road when a speeding 2008 Nissan rear-ended the back of his car, causing it to spin out of control and into oncoming traffic. The Nissan 350-Z Wheeler was driving ran off the side of the road into a tree.
“The defendant drove erratically, topping speeds of more than 100 mph, when he crashed into the back of Mr. Mieczkowski’s vehicle,” said Assistant Solicitor Dustin Whetsel of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “Six days prior to this incident, the defendant had been arrested for DUI.”
After the fatal accident, Wheeler’s blood-alcohol level was measured .256, more than three times the legal limit.
Wheeler’s criminal record includes convictions for speeding, driving with a suspended license, reckless driving and driving under the influence.
Circuit Court Judge Kristi F. Curtis sentenced Wheeler to 18 years for hit and run involving death and 15 years for driving under the influence resulting in great bodily injury. The sentences are to be served concurrently. Wheeler is not eligible for parole.
Whetsel is a member of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office community prosecution team and is assigned to prosecuting crimes in Bluffton. He has been with the prosecutor’s office since 2015.