LINCOLN — A former Delaware prison inmate was violating parole in 2011 when he was involved in a highway crash in Nebraska that killed a 2-year-old Bellevue boy.
Leamond Pierce, 53, was not supposed to be in Nebraska because he was on parole for a 1981 shooting that left a man dead in Wilmington, Del. He violated a parole requirement by failing to obtain permission to drive a semitrailer truck in another state, said Kari Rumbaugh, who oversees interstate matters for the Nebraska Office of Probation Administration.
A Nebraska prosecutor charged Pierce last week with misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide in connection with the Dec. 3, 2011, crash on Interstate 80 near Waverly.
Aidan Curry, the 2-year-old son of Robert Curry and Jennifer Brock of Bellevue, died in the crash.
Authorities in Delaware had not arrested Pierce as of Friday, said Lancaster County Attorney Joe Kelly, whose office is prosecuting the case. Pierce is being sought on a Nebraska warrant and also for violating his parole in connection with the Nebraska fatality.
Brock, Aidan's mother, said Friday that she finds it hard to believe that 1½ years after Pierce was involved in the crash, he remains free and potentially still driving a truck.
“I don't understand how you can have all these rules, but if you want to have a 20,000-pound weapon, it's pretty easy to get that and we don't keep track of who has it,” she said. “It doesn't make sense to me.”
John Painter, spokesman for the Delaware Department of Correction, said Friday that there was little information about the ongoing case that he could release.
“I can, however, say that appropriate actions have been taken in response to the recent charges filed against Pierce in Nebraska,” he said.
One thing that's clear is Pierce had a valid commercial driver's licence on the day of the crash. A call to the Delaware Department of Motor Vehicles found the license remained valid Friday, a week after the criminal charge was filed in Nebraska.
Parole officials in Delaware said they knew nothing about the Nebraska crash until Pierce's name came up in news reports last week, said Rumbaugh, the Nebraska probation official.
Pierce met with his parole officer about one week after the crash and apparently volunteered no information about the incident as he would have been required to do, Rumbaugh said. She said she obtained her information from a Delaware probation official who was familiar with the Pierce case.
“They didn't know he was here at all,” Rumbaugh said.
The decision to prosecute the truck driver was made just before the 18-month statute of limitations on misdemeanor charges in the case was about to expire.
Pierce's truck rear-ended a Toyota Camry carrying the Bellevue couple and their two young children. Aidan, who was properly secured in a child seat, died of severe head trauma.
A Nebraska State Patrol investigator, who reconstructed the crash scene, recently determined that Pierce was moving at 60 mph, or 5 mph over the posted speed limit.
Because of snowy, slick road conditions, other vehicles, including the car driven by the boy's father, were moving at speeds below the 55 mph speed limit.
Being a convicted felon or on parole would not necessarily disqualify an applicant from obtaining a commercial driver's license, said officials with state motor vehicle departments in Nebraska and Delaware.
Federal law requires states to conduct criminal background checks when commercial drivers seek endorsements to haul hazardous materials or tanker trailers. But the checks are not required for applicants seeking to drive a standard truck and trailer.
To obtain the license in Delaware, Pierce would have had to pass three written tests plus a set of physical skills tests. He also would have had to undergo a health and vision screening and a records check to determine if he had any license suspensions or revocations in other states.
It's unclear whether the Wilmington company that employed Pierce at the time of the crash was aware of his parole status and criminal history. A phone number listed for United Distribution has been disconnected.
Thomas Locher, an Omaha lawyer who is representing the company, declined to comment Friday.
Brock, who survived the accident along with her husband and their younger daughter, said the latest information has left her frustrated and angry. She found it stunning, for example, that a parolee's involvement in a fatal accident could go undetected for so long.
“At this point, I have so many unanswered questions, so I don't know who to be angry at,” she said.
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