OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Nebraska State Patrol has heartbreaking news -- announcing the death of Trooper Jerry Smith, 51, of Scottsbluff.
“This is a tragic day for the Nebraska State Patrol”, Colonel John Bolduc, Superintendent of the Nebraska State Patrol said. “A family has lost a husband and a father. Our troopers have lost a colleague and a friend. Our state has lost a true public servant.”
According to NSP, the crash occurred around 7:30 a.m. Thursday when the driver of a Dodge Ram pick-up, driven by MaryJo Decora, 60, of Bridgeport, Neb. was stopped on Highway 26 in Morrill County waiting to make a left turn into a cemetery.
Decora's truck was struck from behind by a Mazda Tribute driven by Derek Lacrete, 28, of Lewellen, Neb.
The collision caused Lacrete's SUV to veer into oncoming traffic and collide head-on with Trooper Smith's Dodge Charger.
Lacrete was ejected from his SUV. Both Trooper Smith and Lacrete were pronounced dead at the scene.
MaryJo Decora wasn't seriously injured.
Smith joined the state patrol in 2014. He graduated with the 56th Basic Recruit Class on May 1, 2015. NSP says he's believed to be the oldest recruit to ever complete NSP's Basic Recruit Camp. He was stationed in Scottsbluff as part of Troop E for his entire NSP career.
He also led a decorated career in the United States Army, serving from 1986 to 2011. Trooper Smith earned numerous honors during his military career, including a Bronze Star for his service in two tours of combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Trooper Smith was doing what he did every day, diligently patrolling Nebraska’s roadways,” Colonel Bolduc said. “This is a sad reminder of the dangers our law enforcement professionals face daily. Our prayers are with Trooper Smith’s family.”
Trooper Smith is survived by his wife and two adult children.
Governor Pete Ricketts ordered flags to be flown at half staff in honor of Smith now through 5 p.m. on the day of his burial.
No additional information has been revealed at this time but they say it will be when appropriate.
Funeral services for Trooper Smith are pending.
Yesterday, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts released the following in reaction to the death of Trooper Jerry Smith:
Today, Governor Pete Ricketts issued a statement following news that Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) Trooper Jerry Smith (#373) had been killed in a car accident this morning in Morrill County.
“Susanne and I mourn the passing of Trooper Smith, and send our deepest condolences to his family. Our state troopers selflessly put their lives on the line every day. The loss of Trooper Smith will be felt not only by the Nebraska State Patrol, but by the Panhandle and folks across the state. We ask all Nebraskans to join us in praying for his family and community as we honor Trooper Smith’s dedicated service and sacrifice.”
Governor Pete Ricketts ordered all U.S. and Nebraska flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Trooper Smith. Flags will be flown at half-staff immediately until 5:00pm on the day of interment.