Attorney for Omaha driver going 97 mph in fatal crash says COVID may be to blame

Attorney for Omaha driver going 97 mph in fatal crash says COVID may be to blame

Category: Auto Accidents

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Could COVID-19 have caused a 97 mph crash that killed a retired Millard Public Schools teacher?

An attorney for driver Gerard Skutnik, 55, said Skutnik believed he was suffering from the coronavirus and blacked out on 144th Street on his way to get tested on Nov. 29. Skutnik drove his Toyota Tundra truck 96.9 mph and caused a collision that killed a retired teacher who had been stopped at a red light at 144th Street and Eldorado Drive, according to a police affidavit.

Nebraska attorney Glenn Shapiro said he wants to gather more information but speculated as to whether brain fog or respiratory distress may have caused his client to drive more than twice the 45 mph speed limit and ram into three cars that were stopped at the light.

A 2019 Chevy Malibu driven by Patricia Brinkman was pushed into another car, and then Skutnik’s Tundra hit a fourth car. Brinkman, 78, a retired Millard Public Schools teacher, died at the scene.

Prosecutors are skeptical that a COVID-related medical episode caused Skutnik to drive that fast.

Citing the outrageous speed and failure to stop, Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine charged Skutnik this week with felony motor vehicle homicide.

Skutnik had neither drugs nor alcohol in his system, authorities say. The absence of those factors typically leads to a misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide charge, punishable by up to a year in jail.

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