A Marian student, who was critically injured in a crash that killed her boyfriend and injured another student, will be charged with misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide in juvenile court, according to Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov.
In addition, the juvenile petition alleges that 16-year-old Maddie Shely violated a stop sign and the terms of her provisional driver's license.
In October, Shely was the driver of a Jeep that collided with a pickup at 180th and Highway 370. The front seat passenger in her vehicle, 15-year-old Nate LaFave, was killed in the crash. The other passenger, 15-year-old Carly Anne Kelly was critically injured.
The driver of the pickup, 50-year-old Alan Hynes, was not hurt.
Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov says his office had been meeting with investigators until late Thursday. The possible options for the prosecutor ranged from doing nothing to charging Shely as an adult.
Polikov chose to move forward in juvenile court. He said, “We are trying to apply justice in a fair manner; apply the law, seek justice, in a fair manner. This is what has happened. It is a terrible tragedy."
Part of the investigation also includes consideration of Shely's age. At 16, she carries a provisional operator’s permit. It's not a full-fledged driver's license. Those are not issued in Nebraska until age 18.
Polikov says Shely had too many passengers in the car, a factor considered for distracted driving.
He said, “You have distractions and you have a driver who is inexperienced and if they are having too good of a time, tragedy can happen. I am not saying that happened here but it was definitely a violation of that statute."
Because Polikov is charging Shely as a juvenile, she does not have to turn herself in and she will not be picked up by a deputy. A letter will be sent to her and to her attorney ordering Shely to appear in juvenile court. That is expected to happen after a judge is assigned to the case early next week.
Nate LaFave’s mother, Beth LaFave, released the following statement to the media upon learning of the charge.
In regards to Mr. Polikov filing charges related to the accident that caused the death of my son Nate LaFave: I do understand the law as it is on the books in Nebraska. What I don’t understand is his need to plan a press conference more than a week in advance, and very publicly, continue to drag out our worst nightmare.
We are trying to get our family through the first birthday and the first holidays without Nate, and smack dab in the middle of it all, Mr. Polikov feels the need to garner the spot light.
There is no law that says he needs to make such a public spectacle of pressing these charges; thus, leaving us to conclude that he is only doing this in the public eye in order to gain attention for himself, especially since he has not held press conferences for all the other charges he has filed this week.
His public actions are nothing short of cruel and are ripping open fresh wounds that are still struggling to heal. His public actions will do nothing to prevent another accident, they will not bring our son back and they will not make our lives (us, the family of the Nate) better. His need for grandstanding and lack of compassion for our family is abhorrent and should not be permitted by a public official.
Shely returned to classes at Marian High School on October 31. Kelly has since been released from the hospital as well.