Man pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide of Woodland teen

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

Updated: March 8, 2013, 6:06 PM

 

A Battle Ground man pleaded not guilty Friday to a charge of vehicular homicide in the Nov. 23 death of a Woodland girl who was a passenger in his car during a traffic collision on state Highway 502.

Ryan L. Matison, 20, is out on supervised release until his trial, tentatively scheduled for May 20.

The Washington State Patrol has said Matison’s reckless driving was the main cause of death of Samantha Effingham, 17, a senior at Woodland High School.

He was driving his 1994 Toyota Corolla at 60 mph at impact, according to calculations by the State Patrol.

He 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. His car collided with a Chevrolet pickup, driven by Luke W. Merriman, 23, of Battle Ground, who was eastbound on 502 approaching the intersection. Both vehicles went off the road.

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

Matison has a criminal record of marijuana possession.

He also tested positive after the accident for 2.9 nanograms of THC in his body, according to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary mind-altering chemical in marijuana. The legal limit is 5 nanograms.


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