LINCOLN — Husker volleyball star setter Lauren Cook faces a possible felony charge after calling Lincoln police on Sunday to report that she hit two motorcyclists on the side of the road and, in a “panic,” fled from the scene.
John Cook, her father and head coach of the top-ranked volleyball team, said Monday that his daughter remains on the team, but he would not address her status for this weekend's matches against Michigan and Michigan State. He said he had been in contact with Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne about athletic department procedures on dealing with arrests.
Lauren Cook was arrested shortly after noon after she called police from her car blocks from the accident scene. Prosecutors on Monday were reviewing the case to determine the charges. Those could include driving with a suspended license and leaving the scene of an accident.
Cook, a 20-year-old junior, was driving alone in her parents' car just before noon. She was driving west on Humphrey Avenue in a residential area of north Lincoln.
According to police, Cook clipped two motorcyclists who had pulled to the curb near 14th Street. Nathaniel Kollars, 30, of Lincoln, suffered a broken leg; Sharon Stratman, 54, of Yankton, S.D., suffered abrasions.
A witness told police that Cook appeared to be “in distress due to her facial expression, but there was no attempt to stop.”
Police said Cook called at 12:05 p.m. to report that she “just panicked” and left the scene of the crash. When police located her near 14th and Alvo Streets, her front right tire was shredded.
According to court records, Cook has been found guilty of four traffic violations, all involving excessive speed. In one case, she was going 16-20 mph over the speed limit in a school zone.
Since 2007, she has been ticketed a total of six times for speeding, but she was able to remove two of the infractions from her driving record by taking defensive driving classes, according to police.
Cook failed to complete a recent driver improvement class, and her license was suspended this month, according to state records.
John Cook was asked to address his daughter's situation Monday during his weekly press conference. He declined to answer why Lauren did not call police immediately after the accident but said she had been on her way to Memorial Stadium after returning from this weekend's matches at Ohio State and Penn State. He said she not been using drugs or alcohol, nor was she texting while driving.
He refused to answer several questions about the crash, citing legal reasons.
When asked if he was aware his daughter had a suspended license, John Cook said: “I can't comment on any of that. There's a legal process that goes on here that goes through all this.”
If Lauren Cook eventually faces a suspension from the team, the coach said she would be replaced by senior captain Brigette Root, a walk-on from Grand Island. Root has played sparingly in three matches this season but has been lauded as one of the top leaders in the locker room on this year's club.
The setter plays a crucial role in directing a volleyball offense, distributing the ball to attackers, and Nebraska's offense was beginning to flourish under Lauren Cook's play.
Cook, a prep All-American at Lincoln Pius X, started her college career at UCLA in 2009 but transferred to Nebraska after a decorated freshman season in which she was named National Freshman of the Year by the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Last season, she split time with senior setter Sydney Anderson.
With Lauren Cook at the controls, Nebraska is 18-2 overall and is in first place in the Big Ten after a four-set loss at Penn State Saturday that snapped the team's 16-match winning streak.
---- World-Herald staff writers Jon Nyatawa, Sam Womack, Joe Duggan and Jay Withrow contributed to this report.
Video: NU coach John Cook comments on daughter's accident: