Tow truck driver charged in connection with Kennedy Freeway fatalities

A tow truck driver involved in a fatal crash that killed two men standing outside their vehicles was charged Friday with misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide.

The Sarpy County Attorney’s Office said James Helbert, 57, also was charged with careless driving in the January crash in Bellevue.

Helbert’s tow truck was southbound on the Kennedy Freeway early Jan. 5 when it crashed into a stalled Pontiac Grand Prix and a stopped Chevrolet Silverado near the Chandler Road exit, police said.

Khalil Jones, 19, of Daytona Beach, Florida, and Shamus Dean, 47, of Papillion were killed. They were standing between the vehicles when they were struck, according to police.

Two passengers inside the Pontiac driven by Jones suffered severe injuries. Alexandria Moffatt, 15, of Omaha, remained Friday at Nebraska Medical Center. Tyquan Petty of Omaha was treated and released from a hospital.

Helbert told police he had looked at mirrors and a blind spot as he was changing to the far right lane immediately before the crash, according to a search warrant application filed in Sarpy County Court that sought police access to his cellphone records. Helbert, who lives in Bellevue, said his cellphone was on a seat next to him, running an app that assists him on his tow routes.

Alcohol, drugs and the “active use” of a cellphone were not contributing factors, police said.

Dean had pulled over in his vehicle to help. Jones was an active-duty member of the Air Force and was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base.

The Pontiac’s emergency hazard lights were not activated, police said. The Chevrolet truck did have its emergency hazard lights flashing, they said.

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