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California man pleads no contest in fatal Nebraska crash

October 19, 2021 GMT

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) — A California truck driver pleaded no contest Tuesday in a chain reaction crash that killed three people in Nebraska two years ago.

Kenneth Kratt, 36, of Madera, California, was charged with three counts of felony manslaughter after the crash in a construction zone on Interstate 80 near Gibbon on Sept. 20, 2019.

Kratt will remain free on bond while a presentence investigation is conducted, the Kearney Hub reported.

Court records said Kratt was speeding in the construction zone when his semitrailer truck hit the back of a vehicle driven by Ryan Vanicek, 37, of Schuyler, who had slowed for traffic because of the construction.

Vanicek and Daniel Seelhoff, 50, of Lincoln, died when their car caught fire. Kratt’s truck then hit a car driven by Scott Gaylord, 54, of Lincoln, who died when his vehicle was pushed under the trailer of another semi, authorities said.

In all, seven vehicles were involved in the crash.

Three other people were injured. Kratt was not seriously injured.