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Slezak makes court appearance for deadly 2012 accident

 

The man charged for his involvement and a 2012 multi-vehicle accident on Interstate 80 that killed two adults and two children appeared in Cheyenne County Court on Tuesday.

Josef Slezak enter the courtroom escorted by Sheriff John Jenson for a pre-trail hearing with his lawyer, Kelly Breen. Slezak faces four counts of manslaughter and four counts vehicular homicide for the fatal crash on I-80 in September of that year. Through an interpreter on the telephone in Vancouver, Judge Derick Weimer informed Slezak that he would clear the courtroom if at any time if he needed to speak with his lawyer.

Slezak, who is from River Grove, Ill. and a former citizen of the Czech Republic, sat mostly silent while his lawyer and Cheyenne County Attorney Paul Schaub brought forth motions, with Breen reserving the right to object to the use of a Powerpoint presentation in trial.

While traffic was stopped in the west bound lanes of I-80 for an earlier accident, Slezak allegedly failed to slow his semi, crashing into two vehicles killing the occupants of each. In the cars were Christopher Schmidt, Connor Schmidt, Diana Schmidt, Ethan Schmidt, and Samuel Schmidt, who survived the crash.

Slezak's truck hit the first, a 2010 Ford Mustang, with such force that it collided hard with the second vehicle, a 2007 Toyota Corolla. Both cars were owned by the Schmidt family.

The impact was so great that it pushed both vehicles under a third vehicle, a semi also stopped in the lane because of the earlier accident. The driver of the truck was not hurt and tried to put out the fire that erupted as a result of the crash.

A pre-trial conference is set for Sept. 6, and trial is set to begin Sept. 16. The Cheyenne County Court is trying to setup or install a system so that Slezak will be able to listen to the proceeding and speak with his lawyer in real time through a translator.

 

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