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Driver who hit, killed Heights man now under DWI investigation for second crash that morning – Chron

This photo shows damage to a driver’s pickup after hitting a parked Tesla Model 3 minutes after Houston police released him from the scene of a deadly collision with a pedestrian on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
The driver who hit and killed a Heights man walking his dog on April 5 was investigated for driving while intoxicated after a separate crash that happened mere minutes after Houston police released him from custody following the deadly collision, new reporting reveals. 
The 33-year-old pickup driver, who Chron is not identifying since he is not facing charges at this time, was eastbound in the 900 block of West 25th Street at 6:05 a.m. that Tuesday morning as 35-year-old Ryan Lutz walked his dog on the edge of the roadway, according to a crash report. That’s when the driver of the black Chevrolet Silverado collided with Lutz from behind, throwing him nearly 90 feet and killing the pup. Lutz was rushed to the hospital and died a week later. 
Immediately after the collision, the driver pulled over and called 911, he said in a statement. As Houston police arrived, they noted the severity of Lutz’ injuries and requested assistance from the police department’s Vehicular Crimes Division (VCD) who detained the driver for questioning. 
Ryan Lutz, 35, right, was hit by the driver of a pickup in the 900 block of West 25th Street on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. He died at the hospital 10 days later. A GoFundMe has been set up to help with his family’s expenses. 
In a press release earlier this week and again over the phone on Friday, Houston police said investigators evaluated the driver on the scene and determined he wasn’t impaired. Officers allowed him to get back behind the wheel of his pickup and leave the scene without so much as a citation.
Speaking through Houston Police Department spokesperson Victor Senties, VCD investigators declined to answer when the driver was released from the scene. However, Raul Chiquillo—whose home is situated directly in front of where the driver stopped his truck after hitting and killing Lutz—told Chron he saw the pickup leave the scene around 8:20 a.m. 
The corner of West 25th and Brinkman streets, seen here Wednesday, April 20, 2022, is the nearest intersection to where 35-year-old Ryan Lutz was struck by a driver on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Lutz died in a hospital 10 days later. 
Following his dismissal by police, the driver continued east past Durham and Shepherd, and then almost immediately crashed into a parked Tesla Model 3 in the 700 block of West 25th just before 8:30 a.m., according to witnesses and police. The force of that crash totaled the Tesla, according to the vehicle’s owner, Lewis Grell. 
Grell provided paperwork from HPD showing that the driver who hit his Tesla is the same man as the driver listed in the crash report for Lutz’ death. Senties also confirmed the driver was involved in both collisions.  
“He seemed a little out of it,” Grell said of the driver’s demeanor after hitting the parked car. His girlfriend, Samantha Gieseke, said the driver seemed disoriented and “not all there.” She said responding police officers and paramedics seemed “bewildered” at the circumstances.
The first Houston police officer to arrive on the Tesla crash expressed that sentiment over police radio waves. The officer was not on the original call, according to an archived log of Houston public safety incidents maintained by Houston software engineer David Wilson. Those same records show there was at least one officer who showed up to both scenes
“My accident now also involves the same person that hit the pedestrian,” the officer told dispatchers. “I’m not sure why he’s still [unintelligible].”
While officers who worked the deadly pedestrian crash decided the driver wasn’t impaired, officers who worked the scene where he hit the unoccupied Tesla determined he was, Senties said. The driver was taken to the hospital, where police obtained a blood draw that was sent for testing. 
Houston firefighters work the scene where a pickup driver crashed into the back of a parked Tesla Model 3 minutes after Houston police released him from the scene of a deadly pedestrian collision on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Senties did not say how long it takes for toxicology results. Once police receive them, they’ll determine whether to file charges. It is unclear whether the results of that blood draw could be used to prosecute the driver for hitting Lutz. Senties declined to answer whether or not officers requested a blood draw for the first crash, only referring to a previous press release that stated he was found to not be impaired and released. 
When the driver spoke with officers after hitting Lutz, he told police, “I never drink alcohol,” according to a statement attached to the crash report. The driver said he had been sick since the Sunday before the crash and was on his way to pick up some coffee when he hit the man. “I never saw the male in the street,” the driver said. “I just felt and heard the impact.” 
A screenshot of a text conversation between Grell and the responding officers shows that police filed a DWI report associated with the Tesla crash. Senties did not give an explanation as to why officers at the two scenes came to different conclusions regarding the driver’s impairment, instead repeating that VCD is continuing to investigate both collisions. 
As of Friday, no charges have been filed against the driver for either crash. 
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Jay R. Jordan writes about how we get around Houston, among other topics like the environment and hot takes on complimentary bread.


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