Second wrongful death suit filed

Teens died in September crash in southern Idaho

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COEUR d'ALENE - The family of the second Coeur d'Alene teenager killed in a single-vehicle crash in September filed a wrongful death suit against the people they say are responsible for their son's death.

Mike Verbillis, attorney representing Ryan Reinhardt's parents, Ron Reinhardt and Laura Wilson, filed the July 7 civil suit in Twin Falls County 5th District court.

It names Kade Laughlin, Ryan Balles, Colt Robinson and Naccona Tegan Robinson as defendants and seeks in excess of $10,000 from each.

"At the end of the day, the responsibility that has been ducked so far successfully by Kade Laughlin and his drinking buddies is going to come home," Verbillis said in an earlier interview with The Press as he prepared the suit. "That's what we hope to accomplish."

In June, the parents of Devin Austin, who also died in the single-vehicle accident, and Jessica Duran, the accident's lone survivor, filed a similar suit against Laughlin, Balles, Robinson, Tegan Robinson and Reinhardt.

Laughlin, 20, of Filer, is charged with misdemeanor reckless driving for allegedly chasing Reinhardt's vehicle around 1 a.m. Sept. 12, 2010, down rural N 3900 road near Twin Falls before the fatal wreck.

Balles, Robinson and Tegan Robinson are accused of riding in Laughlin's white pickup truck at the time.

The preliminary hearing for the reckless driving charge has been postponed, after Laughlin's attorney filed a motion for a bill of particulars, or a request for more detailed information against the defendant.

That hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 27.

According to Twin Falls County sheriff reports, Laughlin admitted to the pursuit, but said it ended before the accident occurred and Laughlin had not witnessed it.

Laughlin did continue driving in the same direction, according to the investigation, and came across the wrecked vehicle. It was right-side-up in a field with its lights on. By the time Laughlin passed the wrecked car, at least one other vehicle had stopped at the scene, and Laughlin did not stop, according to Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs.

Plastic shot glasses - the items the Coeur d'Alene teenagers were accused of stealing from the party and reportedly instigated the chase - were not recovered from the scene, he said.

After the single-car accident, Duran, 19, identified Laughlin as an acquaintance from school who chased the Coeur d'Alene teenagers as they left Laughlin's party.

That led to Laughlin's arrest and the reckless driving charge.

Mitchell Christensen, 20, of Buhl, who attended Laughlin's party but had left to buy beer by the time the Coeur d'Alene teenagers had shown up, said Laughlin drove him home after he had returned from the errand, and attempted to check on the accident.

Christensen said Laughlin, who declined to comment to The Press, had ended the party by the time he had returned and then told him "there had been some kind of an accident and he wanted to see what was going on."

"I had no idea what was going on," said Christensen, who was detained by deputies during Laughlin's DUI arrest. "I thought it was a bad idea to even be driving around."

Loebs said they drove to two other houses, but not to party, before attempting to drive by the accident scene.

At the second house, Christensen said they saw a Life Flight emergency helicopter responding to the wreck.

"We saw life flight go by and that's when I knew something big had happened," he said. "I didn't know the severity of the situation until after I was detained."

Driving home from that house, Laughlin was arrested.

Laura Wilson said the victims' families remain close coping with the tragedy, regardless of the one civil suit naming her son. The Austins' attorney, Jeff Owens, said the Austins' civil suit included the driver for insurance purposes and not to prejudice the case. Without Reinhardt named in the suit, other defendants could blame the un-represented party.

According to an Idaho State Police collision reconstruction report, Reinhardt, 18, failed to navigate a curve while traveling at least 94 miles per hour on the rural road as it intersected with U.S. Highway 30. His blood alcohol level was .19. The legal limit is .08, and the legal drinking age is 21.

Laughlin was sentenced to one year probation for his DUI conviction in March. On April 25, he was charged for unlawful purchase of alcohol by a minor. The Twin Falls County Probation department declined to comment whether Laughlin would also be charged with a probation violation from the April incident.

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