Did trees cause wreck that killed local teen?




Posted on June 10, 2014 at 7:54 AM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 10 at 11:48 AM

SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. -- The owner of a local restaurant said trees near his business are a hazard, contributing to crashes like the one that killed a teenager in May.

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On May 23, 15-year-old Ryan Holyk was hit by a Spokane County deputy at a high rate of speed when Ryan tried to ride his bicycle across the intersection of Vista and Sprague, according to investigators.

That night, Charlie Price, the owner of nearby Charlie P’s restaurant, and longtime customer Tim Vialle comforted Holyk as he lay in the street after the collision.

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Both men said it was a combination of speed and trees that contributed to the deputy hitting the teen.

“I think the trees obstruct the view,” said Price.

Price opened his restaurant more than four years ago. Over that time he said he has seen his share of speeders.

“It was just a matter of time because if you look at the freeway, you've got three lanes of travel each way,” said Price. “If you look at Sprague, there's five lanes of travel each way.”

Vialle said he was so convinced the trees had something to do with the deadly crash, he went to Spokane Valley City Hall looking for answers.

Vialle believes the city is violating a municipal code that requires trees to be 110 feet from an intersection with branches no lower than seven feet. According to Vialle, the trees near the scene of the wreck meet neither of those requirements.

“They need to take the lessons--they need to change the things that need to be changed,” said Vialle. “That's why codes are written.”

Spokespeople with the City of Spokane Valley said the trees in question do not violate city code, and that the likelihood of reducing the five lane stretch of roadway on Sprague is pretty slim.

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Price and Vialle said, however, comforting a dying 15-year-old in the street is motivation enough to keep up their fight. They feel the cost to change Sprague back to a two-way street should never be worth more than a life.
“If I can't see you, you can't see me,” said Price.

Since January 2013, there have been eight wrecks at the intersection of Sprague and Vista. A similar stretch at Sprague and Flora saw five collisions over the same time period.