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DA: Homicide investigation still pending in fatal UTV crash

in Sirens

Wausau Pilot and Review

RHINELANDER — A homicide investigation is still active in connection with an August UTV crash that left an Athens man dead, Oneida County District Attorney Mike Schiek said this week.

Citations of 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 were filed Oct. 3 in Oneida County against Brenda Reiche, now 47, of Weston.

But so far, no criminal charges have been filed against Reiche, who was critically injured in the crash and has denied being behind the wheel. Adam Rietz, 49, died in the crash, which happened just before 8 p.m. August 4 on Point Road East in the town of Nokomis.

Schiek said his office is awaiting final crash reconstruction reports before deciding what, if any, charges will be filed in the case. In an Aug. 5 news release, Oneida County Sheriff’s Department officials, who handled the criminal investigation into the crash, said they would forward recommended charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle to Schiek’s office.

“I am hoping that law enforcement will complete the reconstruction (and) investigation soon,” Schiek said.

Marcie Marquardt, enforcement officer for the Wisconsin DNR Bureau of Law Enforcement, tells Wausau Pilot and Review the final reconstruction report is expected this month. The DNR is spearheading the traffic portion of the investigation and released a fatality report summary that shows speed and alcohol are suspected factors in the crash.

According to the DNR report, the operator of the vehicle lost control on a slight corner, causing the UTV to slide into the southbound lane and ditch. The operator over corrected, crossed the roadway and entered the ditch on the northbound side of the road and began to slide sideways, eventually rolling over and going airborne on its side, the report states. The vehicle then struck a tree, “causing the operator to be ejected and passenger to receive fatal injuries.”

Blood test results are not yet public record, according to the report.

Oneida County Capt. Tyler 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.

OWI homicide charges are often filed up to a year or more after a fatal crash in part because the cases are typically complex, according to prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys. In Marathon County, 65-year-old Douglas Stone, of Merrill, was charged with homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle 18 months after a crash that killed 75-year-old Ernest Paul Elliott. And in Lincoln County, homicide charges were filed against Ashley Baumann 17 months after a 2012 crash that killed two women and critically injured another passenger. Stone’s case is pending, while Baumann is serving a seven-year prison term after being convicted at trial.

“I am unable to make a charging decision until I have reviewed all of the information,” Schiek told Wausau Pilot and Review. “I understand there is a citation that was issued, but I’m not sure how that will be disposed of.”

Online court records show Reiche entered not guilty pleas to all citations filed thus far in connection with the case; a status hearing is set for Feb. 28.

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