Trial begins for man accused of fatally crashing into a woman on her bike in 2020
March 14, 2023 Updated Tue., March 14, 2023 at 8:46 p.m.
Witnesses testified Tuesday that a bicyclist killed when she was struck by a tow truck in 2020 in northern Spokane County was an avid cyclist and was clearly visible by motorists when she was struck.
Jonathon D. Ryser, 48, of Post Falls, is on trial in Spokane County Superior Court for vehicular homicide in connection with the death of Kerry Wiltzius on June 26, 2020, near Peone Prairie on state Route 206. In his opening argument Tuesday morning, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joseph T. Edwards asked jurors to find Ryser guilty based on witness testimony, as well as law enforcement testimony, and evidence of drugs in Ryser’s blood after the collision.
According to court records, Ryser was traveling eastbound in the tow truck with a pickup truck on the back as Wiltzius, 65, was traveling eastbound on her bicycle when the two collided at about 7 a.m. Wiltzius was wearing bright reflective clothing on a clear day.
“She absolutely loved riding her bicycle,” her daughter, Dawn Wiltzius, said in testimony on Tuesday.
Her mother was training for a triathlon and would ride two to three times per week, she said. The daughter said she was traveling from Seattle to Spokane on bike herself when she received the call that her mother was injured. She was in Cle Elum at the time and had to ride to Ellensburg to be picked up and taken to Spokane that night.
A witness who was driving that morning, Mary Madunich, said she could see Wiltzius perfectly and that it was a clear day.
“Next, I heard a very loud metal on metal-sound crash,” she said. “I saw the cyclist fly through the air and bounce twice in the ditch. I pulled into a nearby driveway and called 911 right away.”
First responders located Wiltzius on the right side of the eastbound lane, where she suffered a broken pelvis and ribs, a collapsed lung, head injuries, a spinal cord injury and other internal injuries, court documents said. She was taken off life support on June 30.
Ryser’s defense attorney, Stephen Graham, asked Madunich whether the road could have been dangerous for cyclists.
“I don’t think any road is dangerous for cyclists, only drivers who are dangerous,” Madunich, also a cyclist, said.
Ryser passed a field sobriety test, but refused a blood draw to test for drug use. After investigators obtained a search warrant, a blood draw in March 2021 showed marijuana, amphetamine and methamphetamine present. Ryser was released on his own recognizance about a week after he was booked into the Spokane County Jail in July 2021.
Ryser’s defense did not make an opening statement. The trial is scheduled to continue into next week.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.