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January 21, 2020

12/7/2019 7:27:00 AM
Woman charged with vehicular homicide in fatal UTV crash
Abigail Bostwick
of the Lakeland Times

A 49-year-old Wausau woman has been charged in Oneida County Circuit Court with homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle in connection with a fatal UTV crash in August 2018.

According to the criminal complaint filed Dec. 3, investigative reconstruction reports indicate that Brenda Reiche, 49, was driving a Polaris Ranger UTV when it crashed shortly before 8 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2018 in the town of Nokomis, resulting in the death of Adam Rietz, 49, of Athens.

Rietz was found partially hanging out the passenger window and partially pinned inside the UTV when emergency responders arrived on scene, the complaint states. Reiche was ejected and landed 30 feet beyond the vehicle. Various beer cans were located around the crashed UTV, according to police reports.

Reiche has repeatedly denied being the driver however, according to the criminal complaint, law enforcement involved in reconstructing the crash, including the Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Oneida County Sheriff's Department, came to a different conclusion.

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. Speed was estimated at 47 to 55 mph at the time of the crash. Neither Reiche nor Rietz was wearing a seatbelt, reports say.

After the crash, Reiche refused a blood test, but a sample was taken at Sacred Heart Hospital in Rhinelander due to "exigent circumstances" and the fact Rietz had died, the complaint explains.

Reiche was later flown by helicopter to Aspirus in Wausau.

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

Reiche, who is represented by defense attorney Gary Cirilli, is due before Judge Michael Bloom in Oneida County Jan. 9 for a preliminary hearing on felony charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle with a prohibited blood alcohol concentration. She is free on a $10,000 signature bond.

Five citations have also been filed 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. A status conference on those citations is also set for Jan. 9.

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