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February 26, 2020

1/11/2020 7:30:00 AM
Wausau woman enters not guilty pleas in case involving fatal UTV crash
By River News Staff


A 49-year-old Wausau woman accused of causing the death of a 49-year-old Athens man in a 2018 UTV accident waived her right to a preliminary hearing Thursday in Oneida County Circuit Court and entered not guilty pleas.

Brenda S. Reiche is facing two class D felonies as a result of an accident that occurred on the evening of Aug. 4, 2018 in the town of Nokomis which resulted in the death of Adam Rietz. Charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle with a prohibited alcohol concentration were filed on Dec. 3, 2019.

Reiche appeared Thursday morning before Judge Michael Bloom for a preliminary hearing.

After waiving her right to the hearing, defense attorney Gary Cirilli said his client was willing to proceed to arraignment as district attorney Michael Schiek had indicated the information, or formal charging document, would contain the same charges as in the original criminal complaint.

Cirilli entered not guilty pleas to both charges and asked that a pre-trial conference be scheduled at least 90 days later.

"The reason for that time period, your honor, is because the state has complied really quite completely with discovery, but there are two additional items that our reconstruction experts need, and we have already requested them," Cirilli said. "So we need time for our experts to look at them and have them analyzed."

Bloom then scheduled a pre-trial conference for April 14.

According to the criminal complaint, Reiche was allegedly driving a Polaris Ranger UTV on The Point Road East in the town of Nokomis when it crashed shortly before 8 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2018.

According to the Oneida County sheriff's deputy who wrote the report the complaint was based on, Rietz was found partially hanging out of the passenger window and partially pinned inside the UTV when emergency responders arrived on scene. Reiche had been ejected from the vehicle and landed 30 feet awat. Various beer cans were located around the crashed UTV, according to police reports. 

Rietz was pronounced dead at the scene and Reiche was transported to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk.

Reiche told deputies she and Rietz were at a golf tournament and then stopped at a tavern on Prairie Rapids Road and then to see a relative prior to the crash. She told deputies she'd had "a few" mixed drinks, reports state. 

After leaving the relative's home, the UTV was northbound when the driver failed to negotiate a curve on a rain-soaked road, going onto the roadside before veering back onto the road. An overcorrection tipped the UTV onto its passenger side before it went briefly airborne and then struck a tree head-on, according to the complaint. Wisconsin State Patrol accident reconstruction experts determined the UTV was traveling at an estimated 47 to 55 mph at the time of the crash.

Neither Reiche nor Rietz was wearing a seatbelt, reports say.

Reiche repeatedly denied being the driver of the UTV, but investigators and accident reconstruction experts said the evidence stated otherwise.

According to the complaint, Reiche refused a request to take a blood test, but a sample was taken at the hospital anyway due to "exigent circumstances' and the fact that Rietz had died.

Reiche was later flown by helicopter to Aspirus in Wausau for further treatment of her injuries. 

Her blood alcohol concentration was .236 percent, according to the criminal complaint.

She is free on a $10,000 signature bond.

Five traffic citations were also filed as a result of the accident, including operating a UTV while intoxicated, refusing to take an alcohol test, operating a UTV without each person wearing a seat belt, operating a UTV in a careless way, and operating a UTV with a prohibited alcohol concentration.

These citations are tracking along with the criminal charges.

Each of the felony charges carry a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison.





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