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More details released about fatal crash involving Nebraska trooper

More details released about fatal crash involving Nebraska trooper


The other drivers involved in the fatal crash Thursday that claimed the life of a Nebraska State Trooper have been identified, and more details have been released given about the crash.

The accident happened about 2 miles west of Bridgeport on U.S. 26 at about 7:40 a.m.

The crash occurred when a 2002 Dodge Ram, driven by MaryJo Decora, 60, of Bridgeport, was stopped on the highway waiting to make a left turn into the Oregon Trail Memorial Cemetery.

Decora’s vehicle was struck from behind by a 2005 Mazda Tribute, driven by Derek Lacrete, 28, of Lewellen. Lacrete’s vehicle hit the back driver’s side of Decora’s vehicle, causing Lacrete’s vehicle to veer into the oncoming lane, colliding head-on with a 2016 Dodge Charger driven by Trooper Jerry Smith, 51, of Scottsbluff.

Smith and Lacrete, who was ejected from his vehicle, both died at the scene.

The crash is still under investigation by the Morrill County Sheriff’s Office with reconstruction assistance from the Scotts Bluff County Sheriff’s Office.

Smith, of Scottsbluff, joined the state patrol in 2014 after serving in the Army from 1986 to 2011. He earned several honors during his military career, including a Bronze Star for his service in two tours of combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Graduating at the age of 47, he is believed to be the oldest recruit to complete the state patrol's basic recruit camp. He was stationed in Scottsbluff as part of Troop E for his entire state patrol career. He is survived by his wife and two adult children.

Smith is just the 12th trooper to die while on duty since the agency was formed in 1937, and the first since 1999. It's also first time since 1984 that a trooper has died in a car accident while on duty.

Gov. Pete Ricketts ordered all U.S. and Nebraska flags to be flown at half-staff in honor of Smith until 5 p.m. on the day he is buried. Funeral plans have not yet been announced.


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Weekend editor

Alex Lantz is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has had various roles at the Journal Star since 2012. He currently manages the news section on weekends and oversees the internship program.

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