The Nebraska State Patrol released new details Wednesday about what led up to the accident that killed an off-duty Ashland police officer on Tuesday.
It happened around 5:45 p.m. on Highway 6 near 234th Street, just southwest of the outlet mall in Gretna.
The state patrol says an eastbound pickup was stopped, waiting to turn left when it was rear-ended by a car. The collision forced both vehicles into oncoming traffic as 58-year-old Daniel Ottis was approaching on his motorcycle. He was wearing a helmet, but died of his injuries. The other drivers weren't hurt.
Highway 6 was closed for several hours. No information about possible citations has been released.
Ottis was a 10-year veteran of the force. Flags flew at half-staff in Ashland Wednesday for Officer Ottis. “A lot of the high school kids who were interested in getting into law enforcement would meet with him,” said business owner Karen Stille. “They would do some volunteer activities and he would teach them about law enforcement. He was a great role model for the kids, especially the high school-age kids.”
Michelle Decker thought so much of Officer Ottis she wrote a poem in his honor. It reads in part, “The lives you changed, the help you gave, the passion you held will forever remain."
“He was just an all-around great guy and he’s gonna be missed by the community,” said Decker. “He’s one of the best officers we have ever had here.”
Ottis was very proud of his son Eric, a member of the Bennington Police Department, who died in a car accident leaving the law enforcement training center in Grand Island about 10 years ago.
Ashland Police Chief Mark Powell, who hired Ottis, tells a story that sums up the kind of guy he was. “People shouldn’t have trash in their yards and we had one yard in particular that needed some attention and rather than go give this guy his ticket and make him clean up, Dan went over there off-duty and helped that guy. He helped that guy clean up his yard, so you can imagine just from that one story what he did for this community.”
His funeral is planned for Monday.