Driver in fatal collision appears in court

Battle Ground man faces vehicular homicide charge

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: February 25, 2013, 6:23 PM

 

A 20-year-old Battle Ground man appeared Monday in Clark County Superior Court on an allegation that his reckless driving caused the death of a 17-year-old Woodland girl in a Nov. 23 traffic collision on state Highway 502.

Ryan L. Matison, 20, will face a charge of vehicular homicide at his March 8 arraignment.

Judge Scott Collier released Matison on Monday from the county jail through a supervised release program that requires him to check in weekly and not travel outside the county, among other conditions.

Matison appeared in an orange jumpsuit next to his attorney, Chris Sundstrom, who was hired by the Matison family. Matison’s parents watched the hearing from the public gallery.

Deputy Prosecutor Luke Hansen requested that Matison be held in jail on $50,000 bail because of the seriousness of the allegation.

Sundstrom argued that Matison should be placed on supervised release because, as a lifelong resident of Battle Ground, he is not a flight risk. He also lives with his parents, Sundstrom said. He was employed until a month ago, the attorney said.

Matison has a criminal record of marijuana possession, Hansen said.

The prosecutor added that Matison tested positive after the accident for 2.9 nanograms of THC in his body. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary mind-altering chemical in marijuana. A driver is considered under the influence if at least 5 nanograms are in the blood.

Sundstrom argued Matison is accused of reckless driving, not drug and alcohol use.

Teen died at scene

Samantha Effingham, 17, of Woodland, was a passenger in Matison’s 1994 Toyota Corolla when it collided Nov. 23 with a 2006 Chevrolet pickup.

Matison is accused of failing to stop at a stop sign with flashing lights as he turned onto Highway 502 from Northeast 29th Avenue just west of Battle Ground, according to Washington State Patrol. His car collided with the Chevrolet, driven by Luke W. Merriman, 23, of Battle Ground, who was eastbound on 502 approaching the 29th Avenue intersection, police said.

Both vehicles went off the road.

Effingham died at the scene. Matison and Merriman were transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and later released.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.