A 20-year-old Gretna man entered a guilty plea in Dawson County District Court Friday morning to a charge of felony Motor Vehicle Homicide. Elijah Helms also pled guilty to Driving Under the Influence-Causing Serious Bodily Injury. District Judge Jim Doyle accepted the pleas and set sentencing for October 16, 2017 at 8:30am. A second charge of Driving Under the Influence-Causing Serious Bodily Injury along with Driving Under the Influence and Driving Under Suspension were dismissed.
The case stems from an October 29, 2016 accident on Interstate 80 at the Lexington interchange. A passenger in the vehicle Helms was driving, 19-year-old Lexa Douglas of Omaha was pronounced dead at the scene. Helms and four others were injured in the two-vehicle collision.
In an affidavit, a Nebraska State Patrol investigator wrote that Helms was driving a Ford Focus, westbound on Interstate 80 on October 29, 2016 when the vehicle left the roadway around 4:50pm. It crossed the median, entered the eastbound lanes of traffic before being struck by an eastbound Honda CRV. Douglas was a right front passenger in the vehicle Helms was driving.
A later search warrant of the Ford Focus collected data from the Air Bag Control Module that recorded a speed of 88mph just before the collision, which was considered consistent with other aspects of the NSP’s investigation. Medical records on two different blood draws on the driver indicated they exceeded the Blood Alcohol Content limit.
At the time of the accident, NSP advised that Helms and two other passengers in the Ford Focus and the driver and passenger of the Honda CRV were transported to Lexington Regional Health Center in Lexington by Lexington Volunteer Fire Department and Cozad Fire and Rescue and then transferred to other facilities including Bryan West Campus hospital in Lincoln, CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center in Omaha and CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney. The Dawson County Sheriff’s Office and Lexington Police Department assisted at the scene.