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Man Responsible For Smalz's Deaths Pleads No Contest

MADERA COUNTY – The man who turned his pickup into the path of a motorcycle ridden by Ahwahnee residents Gary Smalz and his wife Laura, killing them both, has pleaded no contest to one count of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and one count of inflicting great bodily injury.

Gary Ragsdale, 43, entered the plea on Feb. 19 in a Madera Superior Court.

On May 19, 2012, Gary and Laura Smalz were riding their Harley Davidson motorcycle on Road 600 near Road 31, when Ragsdale turned his Dodge pickup into the driveway of a business, and directly into the path of the bike.

Laura and Gary Smalz - photo courtesy of April BryantThough Gary Smalz was a motorcycle safety instructor and reportedly an excellent rider, witnesses said there was nothing he could have done to avoid colliding with the truck. People on the scene rushed to help and the ambulance arrived within minutes, but both succumbed to their injuries.

Ragsdale was arrested at the scene for suspicion of drunk driving. He was released the following day after posting bail, and has been free pending trial, which had been scheduled for Feb. 25.

Having entered a plea of “no contest” to one count of gross vehicular manslaughter, PC191.59(a), and one Special Allegation, PC12022.7(a), Ragsdale faces up to 13 years behind bars.

He will return to court for sentencing on Apr. 28.

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Sierra News Online

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