In July the Grand Jury heard the case of Delbert Polenske, the 57-year-old Nebraska truck driver who was indicted by the Grand Jury for Reckless Homicide and Criminal Recklessness. On Tuesday, August 24th he appeared in Marshall Superior Court I with his attorney, Nate Pearson for his initial hearing. He also surrendered himself at the Marshall County Jail where he was released on his Own Recognizance.
The charges stem from an incident on February 15th of this year on U.S. 6 at King Road. The Marshall County Sheriff’s Department said Polenske was driving a 2016 Freightliner semi eastbound on U.S. 6 approaching King Road when he struck the rear of a 2017 Ford Focus driven by 33-year-old Melia Byrer of Bremen who was slowed and or stopped at the intersection to turn north on King Road.
The collision between the two vehicles pushed Byrer’s Ford Focus into oncoming traffic where she was then struck by 50-year-old Jeffery Whiteman of Plymouth who was driving a 2017 Ford Focus as well as 24-year-old Logan Powers of Plymouth who was operating a 1997 Subaru Legacy.
Melia Byrer was transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend for injuries sustained in the crash and passed away from her injuries.
Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said the Grand Jury indicted Polenske on two counts. Count one is Reckless Homicide, alleging that Polenske recklessly killed Melia Bryer by operating a truck in plain conscious unjustifiable disregard of harm that might result from the manner in which the truck was operated, to wit, at a speed greater than reasonable and prudent for the given weather or road conditions and the disregard involves a substantial deviation from acceptable standards of conduct.
The second count is Criminal Recklessness as a level 5 Felony. The indictment stated, “Delbert Ray Polenski did recklessly, knowingly or intentionally commit an act to wit aggressive driving as defined by statute, that created a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person and said act of aggressive driving have resulted in the death of another person.”
Polenski faces one to six years per count with an advisory sentence of three years per count.
Readers are reminded that charging information supported by an affidavit of probable cause is merely an allegation that a crime has been committed and that there is only probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. They are presumed innocent throughout the proceedings and are entitled to be represented by counsel and entitled to a trial jury at which the State is obligated to provide proof beyond a reasonable doubt before a judgment of guilt may be made.