Wausau Pilot and Review

RHINELANDER — A Weston woman facing recommended homicide charges in a UTV crash told police she was not driving the vehicle when it overturned, killing an Athens man.

Police and first responders were alerted to the crash at about 7:53 p.m. Saturday on The Point Road East in the town of Nokomis. Investigators say the UTV left the roadway and struck a tree off the side of the road. Adam Rietz, 49, of Athens, died at the scene.

Brenda Reiche, 46, faces an array of citations and criminal charges — including homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle — if investigators determine she was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash. In a news release issued Sunday, police said Reiche was under the influence of intoxicants at the time of the crash; blood test results are pending. Reiche denied driving and refused a breath test when officers arrived at the scene, police said.

Oneida County Capt. Tyler Young said a family member of Reiche’s contacted investigators on Sunday and said it would have been highly unusual for Reiche to be driving. But Young said investigators are relying on both statements and physical evidence that placed Reiche behind the wheel at the time of the crash. He declined to elaborate further on the nature of the physical evidence involved.

Reiche faces up to 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine if she is convicted on the homicide charge alone.

In addition, Reiche will receive DNR citations for UTV intoxicated operation, operating a UTV without each person wearing a safety belt, operating a UTV while under the influence of an intoxicant and operating a UTV in a careless manner. The homicide charge was referred to the Oneida County District Attorney, who is expected to file charges in the coming days. The crash report was not complete as of Monday afternoon.

Reiche was transported by ambulance to Ascension Sacred Heart Hospital in Tomahawk before being airlifted to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau for treatment of life-threatening injuries. She remains hospitalized.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Department, Oneida County Medical Examiner’s Office and Dept. of Natural Resources are spearheading the investigation.