AUBURN – Prosecutor Louie Ligouri presented evidence Wednesday at the trial of a Nebraska City man accused of manslaughter on Feb. 3.
Ligouri asked Nemaha County Sheriff Brent Lottman if someone with a blood alcohol level of .101 would be driving impaired and if the collision that killed 26-year-old Travis Ries of Pawnee City would have happened if Monty Eaton had not turned his Dodge Durango into the side of the Mazda that Ries was riding in.
Defense Attorney Justin Kalemkiarian countered by asking the sheriff if the accident would have happened if the Mazda driver had not been passing in a “no passing” zone.
Testimony included two of Eaton’s three children that were in the Dodge Durango at the time of the accident. They testified that they had been traveling from Nebraska City to the Auburn area to look at a pickup truck that was for sale.
Eaton turned around after reaching Auburn, purportedly still looking for the truck that had been sitting in a yard along Highway 75. Ligouri said Eaton was impeding traffic by traveling 20 to 40 miles per hour as he headed back north on the highway, with two cars following behind.
Ligouri said the Mazda safely passed a middle car and Lottman said the car nearly passed Eaton. Lottman said there is no evidence that the Mazda was speeding.
Lottman said the Durango crossed the center line and most of the southbound lane before making contact with the Mazda near its rear door. The Mazda driver had moved over to the shoulder as the Durango turned, but the impact near the “fog line” stripe caused the car to turn sideways and roll at least twice.
Dr. Jeffrey Meade testified that life saving measures were continued at the Nemaha County Hospital, but said Ries’ injuries were so severe that no measure of medical intervention could save him.
Meade: “I’ve never seen anyone survive these types of injuries more than a few hours.”
Ries’ mother testified that her son was in good health when she last saw him in Pawnee City shortly before the accident.
Ligouiri said a Nemaha County judge has ruled that it is not unlawful to finish passing in a “no passing” zone.
Eaton is charged with manslaughter and two counts of transporting a child while intoxicated.