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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Driver who tested positive for three drugs after 2020 fatal crash charged with vehicular homicide

UPDATED: Fri., July 2, 2021

Spokane County Courthouse.  (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Spokane County Courthouse. (DAN PELLE/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

A former tow truck driver was charged with vehicular homicide on Tuesday after blood tests revealed he had methamphetamine, amphetamine and cannabis in his system hours after a crash that killed a bicyclist last summer.

Jonathan Ryser struck Kerry Wiltzius with his tow truck on state Route 206 in Spokane County on June 26, 2020, officials have said. Wiltzius was flung off her bicycle to the side of the roadway, and died four days later due to brain injuries caused by the accident.

According to court records, Ryser blew a 0.000 for alcohol shortly after the accident, but a Drug Recognition Expert at the scene believed Ryser was under the influence of cannabis.

As a result, police were able to authorize a blood draw, which was performed around six hours after the accident, according to Washington State Patrol. The samples were sent to the Washington State Patrol Toxicology Laboratory for analysis.

The results, which were finalized in March, showed that Ryser tested positive for methamphetamine with a level of 0.22 mg/L, positive for amphetamine with a level of 0.042 mg/L and a presumptive positive for cannabinoids with a carboxy-THC level of 6.5 ng/mL.

Members of Wiltzius’s family, who recently marked the one-year anniversary of her death, said they were frustrated by the 10 months it took for the blood analysis to come back from the lab.

Kara Stucker, Wiltzius’ daughter, said she had no idea that Ryser potentially had methamphetamine in his system until the report came back nearly a year later.

Members of the family said they were relieved justice was at least moving forward, but also understood the harsh reality.

“I’m glad that the process is finally going to be started,” said Dawn Wiltzius, another of Wiltzius’ daughters. “But no justice is going to be brought to this, no sentencing will bring her back.”

Ryser could not be reached for comment.

Kerry Wiltzius was performing her routine morning training for a triathlon when she was struck near her Peone Prairie home.

Friends and family described her as a mother with an indomitable spirit and an irreplaceable member of the Spokane community. She devoted much of her life to working for local nonprofits like Friends of Manito and the Spokane Humane Society.

Ryser is not in custody. Arraignment on the charge is scheduled for July 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Spokane Courtroom 403 before Judge Julie McKay.

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