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Douglas County Attorney: No motor vehicle homicide charges in December Blackstone District collision

Case will be referred to city prosecutors for DUI and traffic charges
Blackstone District
Posted at 4:29 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 17:29:38-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine released the results of an investigation into a fatal, alcohol-involved collision.

In the early morning of Dec. 4, Omaha Police Officers responded to a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian at 38th and Farnam Streets. William Wright,30, was driving a 2019 Mazda CX-5 westbound on Farnam with a green traffic light, according to a news release from the county attorney's office. A pedestrian, 20-year-old Kaitlyn Vanessen, was crossing Farnam against the walk signal. She was struck by Wright's vehicle and later died of her injuries at the hospital.

According to the county attorney, Wright was under the influence of alcohol and speeding at the time of the collision. Vanessen was also under the influence of alcohol and walking against the traffic signal.

Kleine reviewed the details of the case and says that the state cannot prove "beyond a reasonable doubt that William Wright's intoxication was the proximate cause of death of Kaitlyn Vanessen." In the release, the county attorney's office explains that proximate cause of death is required to convict someone of motor vehicle homicide. In legal language, "proximate cause" simply means having enough evidence that a specific event — in this case, Wright's blood-alcohol level — was the actual cause of death.

The case will be referred to the Omaha City Prosecutor's Office, which can charge Wright with a DUI and other traffic offenses. A few days after the collision the county attorney's office said that Wright had a green light and it appeared he had the right of way.

SEE MORE: Woman speaks out on pedestrian safety concerns in Blackstone

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