Waylon Cash, 14, was killed in a February 2018 car crash in Nebraska that also took the life of his mother, Lynell Morrison-Cash. Courtesy photo

Charges filed for deaths of Lakota mother and her 14-year-old son

'You can kill somebody and it’s considered a misdemeanor'
Lynell Morrison-Cash and Waylon, 14, were victims of car crash
By Kevin Abourezk

A Nebraska man who allegedly caused a car crash that cost two Oglala Sioux Tribe citizens their lives in February will face two misdemeanor counts of motor vehicle homicide.

Sheridan County Attorney Jamian Simmons filed the charges against William Hilton in June after the Nebraska State Patrol completed its investigation into the crash that killed 46-year-old Lynell Morrison-Cash and her 14-year-old son Waylon Cash.

If convicted, he faces up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000 or both for each count.

The crash happened around 7:30 p.m. on February 23 about three miles west of Rushville, Nebraska, when a four-wheel drive pickup truck driven by Hilton attempted to pass a semi-trailer. The pickup struck the Chrysler Sebring convertible being driven by Morrison-Cash, who was headed in the opposite direction.

The mother and son died immediately. Morrison-Cash’s daughter Jessica and Hilton were life-flighted to a hospital in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Indianz.Com Video by Kevin Abourezk: The Lighthouse: Father Remembers Son Lost in Crash

William Cash, Morrison-Cash’s husband, said he is frustrated by Simmons’ decision to charge a man who killed two people and had alcohol in his system at the time with only two misdemeanors.

“I just think it’s so crazy you can kill somebody and it’s considered a misdemeanor,” he said. “I can’t comprehend any of that.”

He said he understands that Nebraska law restricts the charges Simmons can bring against Hilton.

Cash is considering filing a civil lawsuit against Hilton for causing the fatal car crash, and he also plans to begin advocating for changes to Nebraska law in order to grant greater discretion to prosecutors over how they charge people who kill other people while committing a motor vehicle violation.

Lynell Morrison-Cash, 46, was killed in the crash along with her 14-year-old son, Waylon. Courtesy photo

Currently, prosecutors in Nebraska can’t charge people with felonies if they believe the fatal crash they caused was accidental, Cash said. He would like to see the law changed to allow prosecutors to charge people with felonies if they cause fatal accidents, especially if there are aggravating circumstances, such as the existence of alcohol or drugs in the defendant’s system.

Hilton’s blood-alcohol level was 0.023, well under Nebraska’s legal limit of 0.08, Simmons has said.

In order to get the law changed in Nebraska, he would need to get 25,000 signatures on a petition to put the issue on a ballot. The earliest feasible timeline for such an effort would be 2020, Cash said. That would require him to get 25,000 signatures by the end of July 2020 in order to get the issue on the ballot later that November.

“No matter how you look at this scenario, this William Hilton is going to get off extremely easy,” Cash said.

He said he would like to name the amendment after his son Waylon.

William (left) and son Waylon Cash pose just days before the February 23, 2018, car crash that took Waylon's life and that of his mother, Lynell Morrison-Cash. Courtesy photo

Life for Cash and his daughter Jessica has been difficult since the fatal crash in February. Jessica, who was sitting in the back seat of her mother’s car, was critically injured and has had to endure four months of painful physical and mental therapy.

But the father and daughter recently got some good news.

An Oglala Sioux Tribe judge ruled that William Cash could retain custody of Jessica, despite the efforts of his wife’s family to take custody of her.

However, the tribe’s Supreme Court also ruled that Lynell Morrison-Cash’s family could take control of her estate, a decision that William Cash hopes the court will reconsider.

After the court issued its ruling, his wife’s family entered her home and took many of her possessions, he said. When Jessica showed up at her mom’s home, none of her relatives showed her any affection or offered to allow her to take any of her mother’s possessions, William Cash said.

“That really made my daughter feel bad,” he said. “To not even ask that, it felt like it was pretty heartless and cold.”

The hardest part for William Cash has been trying to let go of his son, a beloved basketball player who was born with mild autism.

On Father’s Day, William Cash found the card his son gave him last year.

“I couldn’t ask for a better son,” he said. “He was the most positive, loving, caring person in my life and to have that taken away, it’s hard to wrap your mind around it, and I still find myself trying to find him.”

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