No charges filed in fistfight death |

No charges filed in fistfight death

by Merrie Leininger

No charges have been filed in the death of a Gardnerville man who was involved in a fistfight Friday night during a Christmas party at the Bing Materials concrete plant in the Gardnerville Ranchos.

Lance Dee Wardleigh, 43, was a mechanic for Bing and died of blunt force trauma to the rear of the skull, according to Sgt. Lance Modispacher of the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office.

Wardleigh fell and hit his head after being punched by another party-goer and fellow Bing employee.

Officials refused to identify the man because he has not been charged or arrested.

Modispacher said Wardleigh was taken to Barton Memorial Hospital at South Lake Tahoe and flown to Washoe Medical Center in Reno, where he was pronounced dead at 3:30 a.m. Saturday.

While at Barton, his blood alcohol level was measured and a preliminary test revealed he had a .19 percent blood alcohol level., nearly twice the legal limit for driving.

Modispacher said Wardleigh, who has been a mechanic for Bing since 1998, was at an employee Christmas party at the concrete plant about 8 p.m. Friday.

“Wardleigh was 6 feet 3 and 280 pounds, and eyewitnesses said he was intoxicated and trying to start fights all night,” he said.

According to witnesses, Wardleigh had earlier in the evening pushed the suspect, who Modispacher said is almost a foot shorter than Wardleigh.

“Witnesses told investigators the second man had avoided the situation by leaving the area. Later, (Wardleigh) was trying to start fights with (the other man’s) friends, and when Wardleigh turned towards him, he hit him,” Modispacher said. Modispacher said the suspect had also been drinking, but blood alcohol test results were not available.

“If he was not actually being attacked at the time he hit (Wardleigh), then it may not be a case of self-defense,” Modispacher said.

Bing plant spokesman Chet Wass refused to comment.

“I don’t think it would be appropriate. The investigation is not complete yet. Nobody has been charged,” Wass said.

Douglas County District Attorney Scott Doyle said his office has not received reports from the sheriff’s office.

“No decision has been made. The sheriff’s office is still investigating the matter and preparing reports. It would be premature to make a determination now,” he said.

Modispacher said in cases of death at the hands of another, the district attorney’s office is, by law, required to file charges.

He said the DA can charge the man with involuntary manslaughter, a felony, or order a three-person coroner’s inquest. This panel would look at all the facts and advise the DA what should be charged.