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Man accused of driving drunk in New Year’s Day fatal crash will stand trial

February 7, 2018

The car driven by a 67-year-old woman may have been stalled or moving slowly in an exit lane before it was hit from behind by another car on New Year’s Day.

But prosecutors say that doesn’t excuse what officials called a main contributing factor in the collision — that Vismar Carmona-Martinez was driving drunk. Ninety minutes after the crash, they said Monday, his blood-alcohol level tested at 0.24 — three times the legal limit for an adult.

A judge on Monday ordered Carmona-Martinez, 19, to stand trial on a motor vehicle homicide-DUI charge. Omahan Ann Smock, who was critically injured in the crash, died of a severed spinal column near the base of her skull, Omaha Police Officer Kevin Potter testified Monday.

The collision occurred about 12:20 a.m. Jan. 1 just south of the O Street overpass on northbound U.S. Highway 75. Witnesses told authorities that Carmona-Martinez, driving a 2011 Chevrolet Malibu, entered Highway 75 from Cornhusker Road and was following their vehicle closely. The Malibu slowed and then accelerated before passing that vehicle and a Jeep in the left lane.

Witnesses in the Jeep told police that after the Malibu passed them, they saw the Malibu cross multiple lanes to the right before striking Smock’s car, a Chevrolet Spark.

According to data retrieved from each vehicle’s airbag control module, Carmona-Martinez was driving 62 mph one second before the crash. The posted speed limit is 60 mph. His brake did not activate until one second before the crash, Potter said.

The vehicle Smock was in had a recorded speed of zero miles per hour five seconds before the crash, but an officer did extra calculations that determined it may have been going 4 to 6 mph just before the crash.

Potter said officers haven’t determined whether Smock’s vehicle was disabled or stalled, but said it could be a factor in the wreck.

Just after the collision, it appeared to the first officer at the scene that Carmona-Martinez was asleep. Carmona-Martinez later told officers two different stories before he admitted he didn’t know how the crash occurred, Potter said.

Carmona-Martinez was taken to Omaha police headquarters by Officer Scott Shymkewicz to complete alcohol testing and failed most of the field sobriety tests, Shymkewicz testified.

“My opinion is he shouldn’t have been driving that night,” he said.

Carmona-Martinez had Mexican identification and has told immigration officials that he is in the U.S. illegally. A public defender at a previous hearing said he has lived in the U.S. for 11 years, graduated from South High School and worked in construction.