Plea entered in motor vehicle homicide case.
The Cassgram reports 60-year-old Kevin P. Monahan of rural Murray entered a no contest plea to the Class I Misdemeanor on Tuesday. The judge found him guilty and set sentencing for February 6th. A 13-year-old boy died in the four-vehicle crash on July 19th.
Monahan was the driver of a northbound 2013 Kenworth on Highway 75 near the Plattsmouth airport that struck three passenger vehicles stopped in the northbound lane for highway construction work. Nathan Houfek of the rural Beaver Lake area was killed. Four other people were injured including Nathan’s mother and sister.
Nathan Houfek and his family members were in a Ford Fusion that was the second vehicle struck from behind by the semi, according to the law enforcement report.
The misdemeanor filing accused Monahan of careless driving; and/or failure to obey traffic control device; and/or speed too fast for conditions; and/or following too closely; and/or failure to exercise due care with a pedestrian (construction flagman).
There was no evidence of drugs or alcohol in Monahan’s system and there was no evidence supporting reckless or willful reckless driving, said Cass County Attorney Nathan Cox. Any of those factors would have warranted a felony charge.
Cox said the factual basis to support the plea in Cass County Court was from evidence presented in the arrest warrant affidavit.
From the information contained in the affidavit, Monahan acknowledged to deputies that he had traveled that area several times and knew of the highway construction. He first told a deputy he didn’t know what happened other than looking up, seeing the stopped vehicles and hitting them. In a conversation later with a Nebraska State Patrol trooper Monahan stated he (in wording direct from the affidavit) “thought he had reached down for a piece of candy he had dropped on the floor. Monahan said when he looked up it was too late…”
The construction flagman told investigators he saw the semi coming and knew it was going too fast to stop and that he did not hear or observe any indication of brakes being applied. The flagman was struck by one of the vehicles hit by the semi and but was not seriously injured.
An examination of the semi indicated “brakes were not applied” and that the examinations of the three passenger vehicles indicated the brakes on those vehicles were applied, said the affidavit.
Monahan has been free on bond since the charge was filed on October 24th. Conviction on a Class I Misdemeanor carries up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.