Delbert Polenske, the Nebraska semi drive that was involved in the fatal traffic accident on U.S. 6 on February 15, 2021 pleaded guilty to Criminal Recklessness as a Level 5 Felony on Friday morning.
The plea agreement was presented in Marshall Superior Court I with Judge Robert Bowen presiding.
Polenske had been indicted by a Grand Jury on charges in connection with a crash that resulted in the death of a Bremen woman.
In court, Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman said that Polenske had been driving a semi for more than 12 hours. He was on U.S. 6 in a blinding snowstorm and the vehicle’s black box showed that he had set his cruise control just over the speed limit in less-than-ideal driving conditions. As he failed to see a Ford Focus attempting to make a north turn at the intersection. In court, Chipman said it was snowing at the time of the accident and Polenske was driving aggressively.
33-year-old Melia Sue Byrer of Bremen was driving the Ford Focus. The impact pushed her vehicle into oncoming traffic. Byrer was transported to Memorial Hospital in South Bend and died because of her injuries.
Chipman said that Polenske did not have intent behind the action and that he was remorseful for what happened. He noted that with Polenske’s background and overall circumstances in the accident no prison time was requested in the plea agreement.
Judge Bowen accepted the plea agreement. Polenske agreed to admit guilt to criminal recklessness as a Level 5 Felony. The terms of that agreement had Polenske sentenced to three years in the Indiana Department of Corrections with all of that sentence to be suspended and served on probation. The level of supervision will be determined at the discretion of the Marshall County Community Corrections. The terms of his probation will be transferred to the county where he lives in Nebraska. Polenske was fined $1.00 and his CDL was suspended for one year. A count of reckless homicide as a Level 5 Felony was dismissed.