Juvenile Driver in Fatal Crash near Canby Charged with Manslaughter

The juvenile driver in the November 19 fatal crash that killed 16-year-old Canby resident and Country Christian School junior Matthew Dewar is facing trial for manslaughter and other charges, county officials confirm.

According to the Clackamas County Juvenile Department, Ryan Anthony Kellar, 17, was charged last month with second-degree manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, two counts of fourth-degree assault and reckless driving in connection with the case.

He made his first appearance in juvenile court on December 20 for a preliminary hearing, which is the juvenile equivalent of an arraignment in circuit court. His next scheduled court appearance is January 24. He is currently being detained at home.

Kellar was the driver and sole occupant of a black Acura SUV that, according to police, was attempting to pass another vehicle at high speed and in a no-passing zone on South Mulino Road near Blundell Road when he slammed head-on into a sedan containing Dewar and two of his younger brothers, age 12 and 10.

Dewar suffered fatal injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene. His brothers were taken to an area hospital and released later that day. Kellar was also transported by ambulance for treatment of unknown injuries, but which first responders believed at the time to be minor.

Kellar was a student at Canby High School in November, and was presumably on his way there from his Mulino home when the crash occurred at approximately 7:30 a.m., though more recent court documents suggest he is not currently enrolled.

Dewar, a former Canby High School student and athlete, and his brothers were headed the opposite way, to Country Christian in Molalla.

Under the original provisions of Measure 11, Oregon’s voter-approved mandatory-minimum sentencing law, juveniles ages 15 and up were automatically tried as an adult for murder, rape and other violent crimes, including first- or second-degree manslaughter.

But these provisions were amended with the passage of Senate Bill 1008 in 2019, and a juvenile case may now be moved to adult court in Oregon only after requesting a waiver hearing and meeting a narrow set of extremely rare circumstances.

A Eugene teen who admitted to bashing in a homeless man’s head with a rock the size of a football did not clear the new hurdles necessary for his case to stay in adult court and will be released from custody in five years, if not sooner.

And a McMinnville teen who copped to slitting the throat of his father’s girlfriend before beating her to death with a baseball bat also did not qualify, despite even the judge voicing his displeasure with the conclusion to the horrific case.

There is no indication the prosecutor in this case requested a waiver to try Kellar as an adult. If convicted, Kellar’s maximum punishment would be commitment to a youth facility until the age of 25.

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