'How can it just be a misdemeanor?
Grieving father seeks change in law following deaths of loved ones
By Kevin Abourezk
A Nebraska man who was involved in a car crash that cost two Oglala Sioux Tribe citizens their lives
in February has pleaded no contest to a single count of motor vehicle homicide following a plea bargain.
William Hilton originally faced two counts of motor vehicle homicide following the February 23 crash near Rushville, Nebraska, that left 46-year-old Lynell Morrison-Cash
and her 14-year-old son Waylon Cash
dead. Jessica Cash, Morrison-Cash’s 12-year-old daughter, was critically injured in the crash as well.
Hilton, 32, was driving a Dodge Dakota east on U.S. Highway 20 when he attempted to pass a semi-trailer. He struck a Chrysler Sebring convertible being driven by Morrison-Cash, who was headed in the opposite direction.
The mother and son died immediately. Jessica Cash 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
As a result of a plea bargain, Sheridan County Attorney Jamian Simmons dropped one of the counts of motor vehicle homicide against Hilton last month, and he pleaded no contest to the remaining count. He faces up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
His sentencing is scheduled for 1pm on January 17 in Sheridan County Court in Rushville.
William Cash, Morrison-Cash’s husband and Waylon’s and Jessica’s father, said he doesn’t understand why Simmons offered to drop one of the counts of motor vehicle homicide against Hilton.
“How can you value one life over the other?” he said. “This guy took two people’s lives, and he’s not going to pay for it.”
Simmons did not offer comment when reached by Indianz.Com this week on why she chose to drop one of the counts of motor vehicle homicide against Hilton.
Morrison-Cash, 46, was killed in the crash along with her 14-year-old son,
Waylon. Courtesy photo
William Cash said he understands that Nebraska law restricts the charges Simmons can bring against Hilton.
He said he 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.
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.
In order to get the law changed in Nebraska, he would either need to get the state Legislature to change the law or 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.
In May, Cash filed a civil lawsuit against Hilton on his daughter’s behalf seeking compensation for the injuries she suffered and for her continuing medical expenses. Jessica, who was sitting in the back seat of her mother’s car, was critically injured and has had to endure nine months of painful physical and mental therapy.
He said Hilton has never expressed remorse for causing the crash that took his wife and son.
“How can it just be a misdemeanor?” Cash said. “You need to be held accountable for what you’ve done.”
He said his daughter hasn’t been the same since the crash. He and his daughter especially struggle around the holidays.
“She doesn’t want to celebrate Christmas,” he said. “She doesn’t want to think about Christmas.”
Jessica Cash, 12, was seriously injured in the February 2018 car crash that took the lives of her mother and her brother. She has spent nine months in physical and mental therapy. The following photos were taken earlier this year.
Jessica Cash exercises
on a treadmill while her physical therapist, Scott Fandrich, coaches her at the
Madonna ProActive fitness center in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 11, 2018. Photo
by Kevin Abourezk
Cash, her dad William and physical therapist Scott Fandrich at the Madonna
ProActive fitness center in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 11, 2018. Photos by Kevin Abourezk
Jessica Cash (center)
walks into Madonna ProActive fitness center in Lincoln, Nebraska, on April 11,
2018, with her physical therapist, Scott Fandrich (left), and dad William Cash.
Photo by Kevin
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