By Shereen Siewert, Wausau Pilot and Review
A plea deal appears to be in the works for a 50-year-old Wausau woman accused of driving drunk in a 2018 UTV crash that left an Athens man dead.
Investigative reports and crash reconstruction data conclude Brenda Reiche was intoxicated and behind the wheel when the UTV crashed, killing 49-year-old Adam Rietz. A pretrial conference was held Tuesday in Oneida County Circuit Court, where Reiche faces charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle. 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 have also been filed.
Reiche denied driving in the Aug. 4, 2018 crash. But in their final reports, released months after the crash and obtained by Wausau Pilot & Review in an open records request, DNR investigators determined that the “physical evidence and movement of the occupants during the rollover indicate Reiche was the driver and Rietz was the passenger at the time of the crash,” according to the case report. Investigators also analyzed DNA taken from multiple areas both inside and outside the vehicle to help determine passenger placement, according to the file. The coroner’s report also concluded Rietz was the passenger and not the driver of the UTV.
A test of Reiche’s blood taken roughly 90 minutes after the crash showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.236 percent, but that level would have been higher at the time she was allegedly driving, officials said.
When first responders arrived at the crash scene on The Point Road East in the town of Nokomis, they discovered Rietz, who was partially ejected from the passenger side of the vehicle and partially pinned in the inside passenger seat, dead at the scene, according to police report. Autopsy results show Rietz died of multiple blunt force injuries sustained in the crash.
Investigators say Reiche was ejected through the driver’s side opening and came to rest about 30 feet north of the vehicle. She was critically injured in the crash, but survived.
Homicide by drunken driving carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in the Wisconsin Prison System and up to $100,000 in fines.
Online court records show a plea and sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 20 in Rhinelander. No details about the potential agreement have been released.