Man waives charges in fatal crash

February 13, 2013

A Washington man charged in a crash last summer that killed a 21-year-old woman learned Wednesday that he also faces a charge of driving under the influence.

Zachery Reihner, 25, of 286 E. Prospect Ave., waived his case to court. He had been scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Central Court before District Judge Valarie Costanzo. In addition to DUI, he is charged with homicide by vehicle, reckless endangerment, accidents involving death while not properly insured and several traffic violations.

Rebecca Soffel was pronounced dead at the scene of the July 14 crash in the 200 block of East Maiden Street in Washington. When city police arrived, they found a Jeep Grand Cherokee near a utility pole partially on the sidewalk off the eastbound lane of East Maiden near South Lincoln Street.

Reihner was pinned inside the vehicle. Police were not able to immediately see Soffel because she was pinned under the collapsed roof. Reihner was taken to Washington Hospital and later transferred to UPMC-Presbyterian hospital in Pittsburgh for treatment.

Police said Reihner was driving between 77 and 88 mph when he crashed the vehicle into the pole. He told police that he and Soffel had been drinking at a local bar. Tests showed his blood-alcohol content did not exceed the 0.08 percent legal limit but he tested positive for unspecified opiates, according to court documents.

During the court proceeding, defense attorney Steve Toprani asked Costanzo to reduce Reihner’s $100,000 bond. Toprani explained that Reihner would be living with his grandmother and has a chance to work for a company that provides home care for the elderly, working with an aunt who would provide him with transportation.

“He would be available for upcoming court dates,” Toprani assured Costanzo.

Michael Lucas, first assistant district attorney, opposed the reduction and said he considered the bond appropriate.

Costanzo denied the request, saying she also felt it was appropriate given the charge of homicide by vehicle.

Kathie O. Warco has covered the police beat and transportation for the Observer-Reporter for more than 25 years. She graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in journalism.

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