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Suspect pleads not guilty

Woman accused of failing to stay at scene of hit-and-run

An 18-year-old woman accused in a hit-and-run crash that killed a bicyclist was arraigned on a felony charge Monday in Spokane County Superior Court.

Megan C. Skillingstad pleaded not guilty to one count of failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in death. Dennis Widener, 66, was riding his bike on Empire Avenue at Division Street on June 23 when the crash occurred. He died at a hospital on July 6.

Skillingstad was joined by family members and her lawyer, Carl Oreskovich, who declined to speak with media after the short hearing before Judge Michael Price. Widener’s widow, Helen Widener, also attended.

Skillingstad was given a trial date of Dec. 12, but Price acknowledged it may be postponed to allow more time to prepare.

Skillingstad, a star softball catcher at Shadle Park High School who’s to play for Community Colleges of Spokane, has until 5 p.m. Wednesday to report to the Spokane County Jail to be booked and released on her own recognizance.

Spokane police seized Skillingstad’s 1996 Nissan Sentra on Aug. 5, one day after a friend called police and said she’d been trying to persuade Skillingstad to turn herself in.

Skillingstad had reportedly told another friend that “she was terrified and didn’t know what to do” when she struck Widener, according to a probable cause affidavit. “She thought about staying at the scene, but got scared and left.”

Although authorities often consider vehicular homicide charges in cases involving auto-related fatalities, investigators would have had to establish that Skillingstad was driving recklessly, with a disregard for the lives of others, or was intoxicated. Eight weeks after the crash, there was no evidence of that, police said.

Police said a friend said Skillingstad was on her way to work when the crash occurred about 4:38 a.m.



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