Man pleads not guilty to vehicular homicide of Woodland teen

VANCOUVER — A 20-year-old Battle Ground man pleaded not guilty today to a charge of vehicular homicide of a 17-year-old Woodland girl, who died in a Nov. 23 traffic collision on state Highway 502 while a passenger in his car.

Ryan L. Matison is out on supervised release until his trial, tentatively scheduled for May 20.

Washington State Patrol has said Matison’s reckless driving was the main cause of death of Samantha Effingham, 17, a senior at Woodland High School.

He was driving his 1994 Toyota Corolla at 60 mph at impact, according to calculations by State Patrol.

He is accused of failing to stop at a stop sign with flashing lights as he turned onto Highway 502 from Northeast 29th Avenue just west of Battle Ground. His car collided with a Chevrolet, driven by Luke W. Merriman, 23, of Battle Ground, who was eastbound on 502 approaching the 29th Avenue intersection.

Both vehicles went off the road.

Effingham died at the scene. Matison and Merriman were transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center and later released.

Matison has a criminal record of marijuana possession.

He also tested positive after the accident for 2.9 nanograms of THC in his body, according to the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the primary mind-altering chemical in marijuana. The legal limit is 5 nanograms.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551;—Courts;;