Penn Valley driver charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated |

Penn Valley driver charged with vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated

A Penn Valley man has been arrested in connection with a collision that killed a motorcyclist last August.

Christopher Michael Ragans, 48, was taken into custody Wednesday. He remained jailed Thursday on a $175,000 bond, according to Nevada County Jail records.

Ragans has been charged with gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, driving under the influence causing injury, driving under the influence of drugs and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, court records state.

He was set to be arraigned on the charges in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday, and will next return to court Feb. 18.

Ragans on Aug. 21 was driving a Volkswagen Jetta eastbound on Highway 20, approaching Pleasant Valley Road, said California Highway Patrol Officer Mike Steele.

“Due to his level of intoxication, he failed to see a motorcycle in front of him,” Steele said.

Ragans rear-ended the Harley Davidson, which was being driven by Bobby Ray Dutton, 60, of Lincoln. Dutton, who was wearing a helmet, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. Ragans was arrested at the scene, but did sustain major injuries and was transported to Sutter Roseville Medical Center for treatment, Steele added.

“We completed our investigation and submitted to the DA for review,” he said. “In this case, they determined they would proceed with an arrest warrant.”

Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said Ragans was charged with several alternative counts in the case because toxicology results showed marijuana, methamphetamine and alcohol in his bloodstream at the time of the crash.

“In cases where there is a combination of drugs and alcohol, it can be trickier,” Walsh said. “That’s one reason (for the time it took to charge the case). We were waiting on lab results and we reached out to experts to make sure we understood the effects of these substances.”

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

Christopher Ragans

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