Skagit County, WA – A 17-year old teen from Burlington has been accused of Vehicular Homicide while driving under the influence or affected by intoxicating drugs in a April 25th, 2019 fatal crash at the intersection of Pulver Road and State Route 11, commonly known as Chuckanut Drive in Skagit County, Washington. 31-year old Riley Conard of Burlington died in the crash. The Prosecuting Attorney for Snohomish County has appointed a Special Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Skagit County to avoid a possible conflict of interest in the case.
According to Probable Cause Court Affidavits, on April 25th, 2019, around 6:09 p.m. the teen is accused of driving a 2008 Ford Escape SUV Northbound on Pulver Road near State Route 11. The Teen had two passengers in her car, both under the age of 18-years old. At the same time, 31-year old Riley Conard, his wife Suzanne Conard and their two children were traveling Northbound on State Route 11 in a 2005 Ford F250 Super Duty pickup. Investigators say Conard had the right on way at State Route 11. Several Witnesses told investigators the teen stopped at the stop sign at Pulver Road and State Route 11 but then proceeded to cross SR11 at the same time that Conard was traveling through the intersection in a posted 55-mile per hour speed zone.
Investigators say as the teen’s vehicle crossed State Route 11, she struck the left rear area of Conard’s F250, causing the truck to spin approximately 90 degrees, flip and roll Northbound on State Route 11. Conard’s roof was crushed down into the occupant compartment, and the truck came to rest on its top facing South in the Southbound ditch of State Route 11. Riley Conard died in the crash. One Juveniles in Conard’s truck sustained multiple fractures to their hand and another juvenile in the truck sustained a skull fracture and subdural hematoma as a result of the crash. Riley’s Wife, Suzanne Conard sustained numerous contusions and other injuries in the crash. Investigators say after the teen’s vehicle struck Conard’s Truck her vehicle rotated counter-clockwise approximately 180 degrees and came to rest in the intersection of Pulver Road and State Route 11. The teen and her two passengers were not injured in the crash according to court documents.
Troopers with the Washington State Patrol arrived on scene almost immediately and contacted the visibly shaken teen who investigators say was crying in the back seat of a parked vehicle. According to court documents the teen told Troopers she was stopped Northbound on Pulver Road, looked both ways and the truck came out of nowhere as she proceeded across the intersection. Troopers noted the teen had red, watery eyes, a flushed face and was breathing heavily and crying as she explained this. Troopers say the teens mother, who is the registered Owner of the vehicle requested to be present during any questioning of the teen. Court Documents say the teen denied being on her cell phone and initially denied consuming any alcohol or marijuana prior to the crash. The Trooper then walked over to the teens crashed Ford Escape SUV with the front passengers door open and observed a marijuana pipe with what looked like burnt marijuana residue in the center console area. The Trooper also observed what appeared to be a vape pen on the drivers seat. Court documents show when further questioned about being on any prescription medications, the teen admitted to not having taken any medications but the teen admitted to smoking marijuana earlier in the day. At 6:52 p.m. the teen was advised she was being placed under arrest for vehicular homicide and she was advised of her constitutional rights. A Search warrant was granted to obtain blood from the teen and at 8:08 p.m. her blood was drawn at Skagit Valley Hospital. The teens blood was then sent to the Washington State Patrol Toxicology Laboratory to be tested by a Forensic Scientist. Court documents show the teens blood later tested positive for THC at the level of 5.9 + or – 1.5 ng/ml and Carboxy-THC of 130 ng/ml. Washington has a per se drugged driving law enacted for cannabis.
Under Washington’s law, motorists with detectable levels of THC in the blood above 5 ng/ml are guilty of DUID. Revised Code of Washington 46.61.502(1)(b). Similar to the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit, it is illegal to drive with 5 ng/ml of THC or more in your blood if you are 21 or older. If you are under 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of THC in your blood.
During this time a Washington State Patrol Detective Responded to the scene and forensically mapped the roadway, and evidence. Both Vehicles were impounded to the Washington State Patrol bullpen for further investigation. A search warrant was authorized to search the teens vehicle, which was later searched. Court documents show numerous items of marijuana were found in the vehicle, including numerous smoking devices used to ingest marijuana, three clear baggies containing marijuana, a heart shaped container with marijuana residue and a pill bottle with the teens name on it that contained marijuana. The Teen was eventually released on personal recognizance to her parents awaiting her first court appearance.
On September 19th, 2019 at 1:30 p.m. the teen had her first court appearance in Skagit County Superior Juvenile Court where along with her attorney she pleaded not guilty to all charges against her, including one felony Count of Vehicular Homicide (while under the influence) resulting in the death of Riley Conard and one felony count of Vehicular Assault (while under the influence) resulting in substantial bodily harm to the two children in Conard’s truck.
Superior Court Judge David Svaren accepted the not guilty plea and was advised by counsel that the teen would be turning herself into the Skagit County Juvenile Detention Center before 5:00 p.m. today. Bail was then set at $5,000.00. No Contact orders were approved between the teen and the Conard Family. Judge Svaren set a trial date in mid to late October but advised that he would be recusing himself from the case due to a possible conflict of interest as he previously worked with the teens grandmother. Judge Svaren said a replacement Judge would most likely be brought in from another County and the Trial Dates may change.
Nearly one hundred supporters of the Conard Family attended the court hearing wearing Red Shirts with the words #JusticeForRiley printed on them. In speaking with supporters at the courthouse, many of them feel like Riley has not received “Justice” because the teen 17-year old teen has not been in jail since the night of the crash. They also feel that justice has not been served because the teen who turns 18-years old in December is not being charged as an adult. They have started a Change.org petition to get Justice for Riley.