The 17-year-old daughter of a Skagit County Sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty in Skagit County juvenile court Thursday to vehicular homicide charges, in connection with an April crash in Burlington that killed Riley Conard, 32, and left his wife and two small sons with severe injuries.
Dozens of people who knew and loved Conard came to the courthouse wearing matching red T-shirts bearing his name to show solidarity and support for Conard's family, and as a statement to the court.
"They didn't just take somebody from one simple family," said Conard's longtime friend Brian Serrano. "They took somebody from an entire community.''
KIRO-7 will not identify the girl because she's being charged as a juvenile. Court documents indicate she tested positive for marijuana use after the crash, and state troopers found a marijuana pipe, a vape pen and pills in her car. Troopers say she pulled onto S.R. 11 from a stop sign and hit Conard's passing Ford F-250 pickup, sending it tumbling upside down off the road.
The roadside memorial along Chuckanut Drive near Pulver Road stands as a constant reminder of where Conard's life ended, and a statement for his survivors began.
"This symbol is here because of something that could have been avoided," said Serrano.
Whether you think you're in control of your vehicle or not, to be under the influence and operating your vehicle, it's not right. Look at what happened here," Serrano said.
"I've known Riley for 17 years, and I wasn't even aware of how many people he actually touched or how many people are affected by this."
Serrano says Riley Conard was such a bright light in everyone's lives, he believes people should think of him—his friendly, approachable, fun-loving nature and his unspeakably sudden loss—when they consider driving while intoxicated.
"We can't let this become a solid negative across the board," Serrano said. "We need people to understand the more love you give, the more love that's shared."
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