A Chehalis man accused of causing a fatal car crash on state Route 6 west of Chehalis in August pleaded not guilty in Lewis County Superior Court on Thursday.
Reece W. Giddings, 21, was charged with vehicular homicide on Sept. 2 and made his preliminary appearance and arraignment hearing on Thursday.
The crash killed Erin E. McLeod, 42.
Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer requested that bail stay at $500,000 based on the warrant that was issued for his arrest, noting recent convictions that he said demonstrated a threat to public safety, including a fourth-degree and second-degree assault in 2018, a 2019 unlawful possession of a controlled substance, a 2019 unlawful possession of marijuana (under 21 years of age), and others.
Giddings’ attorney, Nicholas Andrews, argued that his client should be released on his own personal recognizance, citing extensive medical treatment Giddings has to go through from the crash and that he would not be able to receive proper treatment in custody.
Judge James Lawler settled on a $20,000 unsecured bail, meaning he is released from the Lewis County Jail’s custody and only needs to pay bail if he does not appear for any of his hearings, under the condition that he is subject to random drug tests.
The investigation report provided by the state patrol gives the following account of the crash on Aug. 26:
At approximately 1:45 p.m.state patrol troopers responded to a fatal two-car accident on State Route 6 near milepost 50 west of Chehalis where Giddings, driving a four-door 2006 BMW sedan, allegedly struck McLeod, driving a 2006 Mini Cooper.
A witness of the crash told law enforcement that Giddings was traveling west on SR 6 in the eastbound lane and then collided with McLeod head on.
McLeod was pronounced dead on the scene.
The witness, who was traveling east on SR 6, reportedly drove by Giddings before the crash and saw him looking down as if he was checking his phone, though she was not sure if his phone was in his hand.
Giddings was trapped in his vehicle in the aftermath of the crash, and once extricated, was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center to treat his injuries.
Prior to being airlifted, a trooper was able to talk with Giddings, who submitted to a field sobriety test and showed four of six possible clues that he was under the influence, but a preliminary breathalyzer test showed that he had no alcohol in his system.
Giddings admitted to smoking marijuana several days prior but denied smoking any on the day of the collision.
“Giddings appeared relaxed, rarely complaining of pain, which appeared inconsistent with his level of injuries,” the trooper wrote in his report.
A trooper who searched Giddings’ car found marijuana in and around a broken glass jar in the glovebox of the BMW.
A blood sample from Giddings was taken pursuant to a search warrant that was sent to the WSP toxicology lab and the results are still pending.
Giddings’ cell phone was also seized on a search warrant.
Giddings’ next hearing in Superior Court is scheduled for Oct. 1.