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Prosecutor: Illinois trucker drove 15 hours straight before fatal I-80 crash

Driver fatigue was likely a cause in the crash of an Illinois trucker charged in the deaths of a family of four on Interstate 80 near Potter.

KSID Radio reports that during a preliminary hearing Monday, Cheyenne County Attorney Paul Schaub said that 36-year-old Josef Slezak of River Grove, Illinois clearly drove non-stop from Milwaukee to Cheyenne county.

Schaub said that Commercial Driver License rules obligate the driver to stop and get rest, something that he alleges Slezak didn't do.

Nebraska State Trooper Art Frerichs, a post-crash investigator, said Slezak left Miwaukee, Wisconsin about 3 p.m. Central Time September 8th, and was on-duty until the early morning hours of the crash on September 9th, nearly 15 hours later. Frerichs said that the drive would take a minimum of 13 hours and 10 minutes.

Slezak was bound over to Cheyenne County District Court on four counts of manslaughter, a class III felony, four counts of motor vehicle homicide, a class IIIA felony, and one count of motor vehicle homicide involving an unborn child, class IV felony.

Schaub said a second amended information was filed earlier Monday that added willful reckless driving as a possible additional predicate offense for each charge.

Slezak was ordered to appear for arraignment in Cheyenne County District Court on October 3th at 8:30 a.m. Slezak’s request for a bond reduction was denied. He remains held on a $1 million bond.

Slezak is accused of not slowing down for stopped traffic, and causing the deaths of the Schmidt family from Gaithersburg, Maryland. 30-year-old Christopher, his wife 28-year-old Diana, and their 2- and 3-year-old children Conner and Samuel. Diana was 30 weeks pregnant.

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