Charges of reckless driving and driving under the influence were filed Monday in Lincoln County Court against an off-duty police officer after a wreck near the North Platte River Bridge on April 19.
Sarah Jones was involved in the two-vehicle wreck. Jones’ car allegedly strayed out of her lane and hit an oncoming pickup pulling a boat trailer.
No one was injured enough to require an ambulance.
Jones, 28, was driving a 2014 Dodge four-door sedan, reportedly on her way home at 12:30 a.m.
She was just south of the North Platte River Bridge on U.S. Highway 83 when she hit the back end of the oncoming pickup. The impact of the collision knocked the pickup, a 2012 Chevy Silverado, on its side. Jones’ sedan also hit the boat, ejecting it from the trailer. The boat sailed over the guardrail leading to the bridge and landed in the west ditch, according to the accident report.
Jones’ sedan was also heavily damaged. The “front clip” of the car was sheared off, the accident report said.
The four occupants of the pickup were treated for minor injuries at the scene. Everyone involved in the wreck was wearing a seat belt, according to the sheriff’s report.
Jones was detained at the scene after she declined an ambulance, and then taken to the sheriff’s office, where a breathalyzer test was administered. Her blood alcohol content was 0.18%. The legal limit is 0.08%.
She also had a head injury. A deputy inspected the injury and determined that she required treatment. He took her to the emergency room at Great Plains Health.
At the hospital, Jones reportedly received seven staples to suture the injury. Afterwards, she was released, not incarcerated.
Police Chief Dan Hudson announced that afternoon that Jones was placed on administrative leave from the police force, pending the outcome of the case.
Back at work
County Attorney Rebecca Harling said that the citation was promptly sent to Keith County Attorney Randy Fair, with a request that he act as a special prosecutor.
Harling said she didn’t look at the accident report or the citation. She said she has a conflict of interest because police and prosecutors work closely.
“She’s a cop. I’m the county attorney,” Harling said to explain the conflict.
Five days later, Jones was back at work in the police department, doing administrative support work.
Hudson told the Bulletin that Jones continues to receive pay on administrative leave, and he wanted her to do productive work. He said she would not work on any investigations or cases that could reach the courtroom.
Hudson said his hands are tied as far as discipline goes, until Jones is convicted of a charge, so he had no choice but to keep her on the force. If he took harsher disciplinary action, Jones would have grounds to appeal.
Jones has been with the police department for about two years, after working as an investigator with the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
Colleagues say she is a good officer who made a bad mistake in drinking and driving.
Fair filed the charges 11 working days after the wreck.