Review Board finds Ryan Holyk’s death result of “tragic accident”

Review Board finds Ryan Holyk’s death result of “tragic accident”

A citizens advisory board for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office has found the multiple investigations into the May 2014 death of Ryan Holyk were thorough and his death was the result of a “tragic accident.”

The board’s review echo findings from a trio of independent investigations into the death of Ryan Holyk, 15, who died near the intersection of Sprague Avenue and North Vista Road on the night of May 23, 2014.

On that evening Holyk was riding his bike along the road while a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy, Joseph Bodman, was driving westbound on Sprague at a high rate of speed.

Holyk crashed his bicycle and it appeared initially that it was as a result of a collision with the patrol car. He hit his head on the pavement, suffered brain damage and passed away. Subsequent investigations found that Holyk’s bike was never hit by the patrol car.

The advisory board reviewed all of the materials from the investigations, ranging from the initial incident report and review by the Washington State Patrol, forensic video analysis, Holyk’s autopsy report to reviews conducted by the Department of Justice and FBI.

After the review, which started last fall, the board found that Holyk was riding his bicycle without a helmet, taillights, headlights, reflectors or brakes and failed to stop at the red light at Vista and Sprague as required by law.

It also found that on Bodman’s part, he failed to activate his emergency lights as he responded to support another deputy while traveling at a high rate of speed. Bodman previously was found in violation of several departmental policies regarding his response to support his fellow deputy and issued a written reprimand.

The board concluded that after reviewing all of the materials available from previous investigations it was impossible to determine if Holyk reacted to seeing Bodman’s patrol car and concurred with previous findings that Bodman’s car did not have contact with the bicycle.

While Holyk’s DNA was found on the patrol car’s bumper, the advisory board agreed that the DNA was transferred from Holyk to the vehicle not through impact but by someone in close proximity to both the teen and patrol vehicle while rendering aid to Holyk.

While soliciting public feedback on their review, someone encouraged the board to defer their investigation until a civil lawsuit filed in the case was resolved, with the inference that the sheriff’s office had not provided all evidence to the board in the case.

“An opportunity was offered to bring forth any missing evidence or information, but none was ever offered,” the board said in its report.

The DOJ and FBI have monitored the investigation and “determined absent new significant information, they would decline further investigation.” Spokane County Prosecutor Larry Haskell also determined since Bodman never hit Holyk, no charges would be filed.

The board concluded their review by saying all of the investigations into the case were thorough and that the death of Holyk “was a tragic accident ending in the passing of a young person’s life.”

Holyk family attorney Mike Maurer, who is shepherding a civil suit in the matter, said Tuesday morning he doesn’t feel the board review was independent because they never contacted him about the case. Maurer added he has deposed dozens of people under oath in his investigation into Holyk’s death but the board never contacted him about anything he had learned in those depositions.

Further, Maurer said that despite all of the investigations into the case he feels the patrol car did hit Holyk due to the amount of DNA found on the patrol vehicle’s bumper.

The neurosurgeons who treated Holyk after the accident, according to Maurer, said that there was no way the amount of damage done to his brain happened due to a fall from a bicycle, that there were more energy involved than a fall due to the amount of damage his brain sustained.

The civil lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in August.