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York man charged in crash that killed Aurora volleyball coach

York man charged in crash that killed Aurora volleyball coach

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YORK, Neb. – Otis Newcomb, 37, of York, has been charged with two felonies after toxicology results show he was allegedly intoxicated when the van he was driving crossed the center line, causing a crash with another vehicle that killed an Aurora woman.

Lauren Akerson was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident approximately two miles west of York on Highway 34, in the early morning hours of Saturday, Nov. 2.

York County Attorney Candace Dick says Newcomb has been arrested on charges of aggravated motor vehicle homicide, a Class 2 felony, and unintentional killing by an unlawful act, which is a Class 3 felony.

"The motor vehicle homicide charge was enhanced because Newcomb had a prior conviction of driving under the influence," Dick said.

Dick said toxicology results show Newcomb's blood alcohol level was .113, .03 over the state's legal limit.

York County Sheriff Dale Radcliff said Newcomb is currently being held at the York County Jail. Dick said his bond has been set at $300,000, 10 percent.

Newcomb was driving a van owned by the York News-Times. Initially, he told investigators that he had looked down to adjust the radio and accidentally crossed the center line.

Early on, investigators said they didn't suspect alcohol to be a factor in the accident – but when toxicology results came back, the felony counts were filed.

Dick said a hearing in York County Court has been set for Wednesday afternoon. She said she expected the hearing to be held at 2 p.m., although she couldn't confirm the date and time because she was out of the office Monday, due to the Veterans Day holiday.

Dick confirmed that investigators with the Nebraska State Patrol determined the van driven by Newcomb crossed into the westbound lane, causing the crash – based on gouge and tire skid marks.

If convicted, Newcomb could be facing the possibility of 1-50 years in prison on the first charge and 1-20 years in prison on the second.

Akerson, 31, a second grade teacher and volleyball coach for Aurora Public Schools, was a passenger in the vehicle hit by the van. Three others in the vehicle in which she was riding were transported to York General Hospital after the accident, where they were treated and later released.

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