The driver who was behind the wheel of the car that struck and ultimately killed Hallmark star Treat Williams in June 2023 has pleaded not guilty nearly two months after the Vermont State Police (VSP) charged him with “grossly negligent operation with death,” according to the Associated Press.
Ryan Koss, 35, appeared at Bennington County Superior Court for his arraignment on September 25, 2023, according to the Chronicle Telegram. If found guilty, Koss could receive a sentence of up to 15 years in prison, a fine of up to $15,000 or both, per Vermont state law.
New details about the crash have been reported in the aftermath of the court appearance, including that Koss and his husband, who witnessed and gave a statement on the accident, were the ones who called Williams’ wife, Pamela Van Sant, to tell her what had just happened.
Here’s what you need to know:
Police Report Reveals New Insights From Driver’s Husband, Who Witnessed Crash With Treat Williams
Williams, an accomplished stage, TV and film actor for nearly 50 years, died on June 12 at age 71 after a crash in Dorset, Vermont, just minutes from the farmhouse where he lived with Van Sant.
According to the initial crash investigation by the Bennington County State’s Attorney’s office, the June 12 accident occurred when Koss, driving a Honda SUV, tried to turn left into the parking lot of a local auto shop. In his affidavit, according to the Bennington Banner, Koss told police that he slowed down and signaled a left turn but he wasn’t sure if he came to a complete stop. Koss, whose blood-alcohol test came back negative, said he never saw the motorcycle heading toward him.
The paper also reported that Koss’s husband, Will Rucker, was driving the car behind him and told police he saw Koss signal the left turn, but that Koss didn’t come to a complete stop before turning.
In his statement to police, Rucker said, “‘I thought to myself, what the f*** are you doing?’ The next thing, it was just ‘boom’ and Treat Williams was flying in the air.”
Rucker, who did see the motorcycle, stated that he was confused about what Koss was doing because he “saw the blinker and was wondering, ‘Why does he keep going, and why isn’t he pausing for the motorcycle?'”
The police report said Williams was driving northbound on his 1986 Honda VT700c and was “unable to avoid a collision and was thrown from his motorcycle.” Following an investigation, police said the primary reason for the crash was that Koss failed to yield to oncoming traffic that had the right of way, which is a violation of Vermont law, per local news blog VTDigger.
Witnesses have said that Williams, whose credits included starring in the popular Hallmark series “Chesapeake Shores,” was conscious at the scene of the crash. But after being airlifted to Albany Medical Center in Albany, New York, according to police, he was pronounced dead that evening from “severe trauma and blood loss as a result of the crash.” The actor was wearing a helmet, the VSP’s statement said.
Ryan Koss & His Husband Called Treat Williams’ Wife From the Crash Scene
In 2018, according to the Manchester Journal, Koss and his then-partner Will Rucker moved to Vermont to work for the Dorset Theatre Festival, which is known for its high-caliber summer productions featuring big-name stars. The couple got married in September 2019. In May 2023, weeks before the fatal accident, Koss was promoted to managing creative director and Rucker was named executive artistic director at the theater, per Broadway World.
Williams was also active in the local theater community, including starring in Dorset Theatre Festival’s 2017 production of “American Buffalo,” according to The Daily Gazette.
After Koss was formally charged on August 1, he issued a statement via his attorney, Ian Carleton of Sheehey Furlong & Behm, saying that he had considered Williams a friend.
“I am devastated by Mr. Williams’s tragic passing,” Koss said. “I have known Treat for years, both as a member of this tight-knit community and fellow theater maker. I considered him a friend. I know his family feels his sudden loss even more deeply than I do, and I offer my sincerest condolences to them.”
Koss asked in his statement for privacy “during this heartbreaking time” and also said that he is “confident the facts will show I obeyed all relevant traffic laws, and the State’s charges are unwarranted.”
On September 26, the Bennington Banner reported that, per the police report, Koss said he and Rucker were the ones who called Williams’ wife to “let her know they just ran into Treat.”
Following Koss’s court appearance on September 25, WTEN reported that the judge released Koss under undisclosed conditions. A “status conference” is expected to take place in the spring of 2024 to determine if there have been any updates in the case and if prosecutors want to go to trial, according to the Bennington Banner.
Van Sant has not commented publicly about Koss or the case. But she continues to update Williams’ Instagram account with views from their farmhouse and some of their favorite memories as a couple.
On September 17, she posted an old photo of them together and wrote, “My love. I miss him so much. 💔”