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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Driver in fatal crash charged

Motorcycle passenger killed; suspect may have been drinking

Lorri Keller (The Spokesman-Review)

A man charged with killing a Mead woman and possibly leaving her husband paralyzed Tuesday night was allegedly drinking at two bars before the accident, according to court records.

Jon A. Strine, 42, made his first appearance in Spokane County Superior Court on Wednesday on charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

Strine is accused of driving his 2002 Mercedes sedan recklessly moments before hitting a motorcycle driven by Gary Keller at Fifth Avenue and Browne Street in Spokane about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, court records state.

Lorri Keller, 48, the motorcycle’s passenger, was pronounced dead at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Gary Keller, 59, remained in critical condition Wednesday. He suffers from a possible broken back and internal injuries, and hospital staff told police it’s likely he will be paraplegic.

Lorri Keller worked as the assistant secretary at Regal Elementary School in north Spokane, where students and staff were grieving her loss. She had been employed with Spokane Public Schools since 1990, said Terren Roloff, director of community relations.

“Everybody just loved her,” Roloff said.

Strine and his passenger were not injured, police said.

According to court documents, Strine had been drinking at a bar on the South Hill called Press, where he is described as a regular.

A witness who works at the bar said she and Strine shared a couple of drinks before driving to another bar downtown called Fast Eddie’s, where the pair consumed “one more pint of beer.” Strine then offered to give the witness a ride home.

Several other witnesses said Strine was driving erratically south on Browne at a high rate of speed moments before the crash.

One witness said the Mercedes “flew past him on the left,” and just before entering the on-ramp at Interstate 90 and Browne, swerved right and accelerated to over 50 mph, court records state.

The Mercedes struck the motorcycle, which was eastbound on Fifth. Both Gary and Lorri Keller “flew up in the air,” a witness said.

According to court records, officers said Strine smelled of alcohol and had “glassy and bloodshot” eyes, as well as slurred speech. Officers said he appeared unconscious, slumped over his vehicle’s air bag after the incident and when asked if he was OK, he responded with “huh?”

Strine was being held in the Spokane County Jail.