Driver Charged In Fatal Accident Speaks From Jail

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

A Douglas County judge set bond at $500,000 Friday for the man arrested for the deaths of two girls in a Wednesday morning crash. Investigators say Christopher Phelps was driving angry, drunk and too fast to make the turn at the end of his street near Irvington. Phelps later spoke with reporters in a jailhouse interview.

The accident happened at 87th and Quest Street northwest of Omaha around 12:15 a.m. When the SUV rolled, 4-year-old Laela Torry-Tooley and 5-year-old Mela Skye Torry were ejected and pinned under the vehicle. They died at the scene. Their mother, 28-year-old Chanelle Torry of Omaha, suffered a broken back, seven broken ribs and injuries to her head. Another daughter, 17-month-old Brielle Torry, was not hurt.

Wearing the yellow jumpsuit of an inmate in protective custody, the 35-year-old Phelps made his way to the interview room where agreed to meet with reporters. But once there, Phelps said on the advice of a lawyer, he could not answer questions about the chain of events that led to the deaths of the girls. "They told me not to even talk to you."

He did talk, though some subjects were off-limits. Phelps was very deliberate with his answers and at times the emotions he tried to avoid came to the surface.

Phelps talked of the time he took Mela and Laela to Benson Days and said he still cares for their mother. "I've done my best to help in certain situations and I really had some strong, really still have some strong feelings for her, Chanelle."

Chanelle's family has strong feelings about Phelps, too. Leaving the courtroom after the judge gave Phelps a half-million dollar bond, Lisa Torry was upset, believing Phelps may be able to post his own bail.

"I don't feel that he should have gotten a bond," said Lisa. "I lost my two nieces. Those were my babies too, they always spent time with me. They were at my house all the time."

The loss of the girls has been devastating, but even the surviving daughter Brielle is having problems. "She screams like she is going through the accident again and I had to hold her and calm her down and put her back to sleep so I don't feel like he needs to get out,” said Lisa.

Phelps would need to come up with $50,000, 10 percent of $500,000, to get out of jail. The judge called Phelps "a risk to the public."

His preliminary hearing was scheduled for November 6th. If convicted of the charges that include two counts of motor vehicle homicide, he faces a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, a minimum of two years.

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