Driver identified in fatal crash

  • By Kathie O. Warco
    Staff writer
July 17, 2012

Washington police are awaiting toxicology and crash analysis reports before determining whether charges will be filed in a crash early Saturday that killed a Venetia woman.

Zachery Reihner, 24, of East Prospect Avenue, Washington, was driving a Jeep Grand Cherokee that crashed about 12:35 a.m. on East Maiden Street near Lincoln Avenue. His 21-year-old passenger, Rebecca Elizabeth Soffel, was pronounced dead at the scene.

City police Officer Dan Rush said Reihner was driving east on East Maiden Street when he failed to negotiate a turn.

“He tried to correct it and oversteered,” Rush said “The vehicle hit a curb and then partially rolled into a utility pole, collapsing the roof. The vehicle landed on its wheels. I think the pole prevented it from completely rolling over.”

Rush believes speed may have been a factor. A witness told police the vehicle was traveling at a high speed before the crash.

“A crush analysis will be done on the vehicle,” Rush said. “That should give us a good estimate of the speed at the time of impact.”

A Pennsylvania state police accident reconstruction specialist is assisting city police in the analysis.

Soffel, who was pinned in the wreckage, died of multiple injuries, said Washington County Coroner Tim Warco. Reihner was taken to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment of leg and pelvic injuries, police said. He was listed in good condition Tuesday.

Rush said the two had been at a bar in town before the crash. The officer will subpoena Reihner’s hospital records to determine if he had alcohol in his system at the time of the crash. Reihner did not have a valid driver’s license, police said.

Soffel is the 12th person to die in a crash on Washington County roads this year.



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