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Family of teen killed in bike crash sues Sheriff’s Office

Ryan Holyk
Ryan Holyk

The family of a teen bicyclist who died last year in an incident involving a speeding deputy on Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley is disputing the conclusion of a law enforcement team that examined his death.

The parents of 15-year-old Ryan Holyk filed a lawsuit against the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the deputy involved in the incident, Joseph Bodman, late last week.

Holyk was crossing Sprague on his bicycle against a red light about 10:30 p.m. May 23 at Vista Road when Bodman sped by in his patrol SUV. Bodman was going more than 70 mph in a 35-mph zone without his emergency lights on.

Officials initially said Holyk was struck by Bodman’s cruiser. But in January, investigators said they determined through three separate investigations that Bodman missed Holyk – by as little as a foot – and Holyk died as a result of flipping over his handlebars and landing on his head.

Mike Mauer, who represents Holyk’s mother, Carolyn Thomson, and father, Aaron Holyk, said he doubts the conclusions of the Spokane Investigative Regional Response Team that determined Bodman’s car did not strike Holyk.

“The trauma to Ryan was so severe that it wasn’t simply him falling off his bicycle,” Mauer said.

The Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office said neither Bodman’s car nor Holyk’s bike showed any signs of damage.

After the prosecutor’s office cleared Bodman of criminal wrongdoing, Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich launched an internal investigation into whether Bodman followed department policy and procedure. Knezovich did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Holyk’s bicycle had no brakes, lights or reflectors, and Holyk was not wearing a helmet, according to the response team’s investigation. Helmets are not required in Spokane Valley.

The lawsuit claims that at the time of his encounter with Holyk, Bodman was on his way to Second Avenue and Park Road to assist another deputy who had pulled over someone wanted on a warrant. Bodman was going about 74 mph even though the suspect was in custody and two other deputies already arrived, according to the lawsuit.

Deputies are allowed to violate traffic laws if they are responding “code” with lights and siren, according to the Sheriff’s Office policy manual. Deputies heading to routine calls without lights and siren are required to “observe all traffic laws.”

Holyk, a West Valley High School student, died June 4 at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

No specific dollar amount is listed in the lawsuit, but the Holyk family is asking for money to cover funeral costs, loss of future earnings, and money for the “pain, suffering, anxiety, emotional distress and humiliation and fear experienced by Ryan Holyk prior to his death.”

Staff writer Nina Culver can be reached at ninac@spokesman.com or (509) 459-5473.

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