Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer remembered Sarah Root on Friday as a “very excellent, diligent student” who “had a tremendously bright future.”

Schmaderer taught Root for nine months as part of an investigations course at Bellevue University. Root, 21, graduated Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in investigations and a 4.0 grade-point average.

A day later, Root was killed when her sport utility vehicle was rear-ended near 33rd and L Streets. Police say the driver of the pickup that hit her was street racing while drunk.

Douglas County Judge Jeffrey Marcuzzo ordered Eswin G. Mejia, 19, held on 10 percent of $50,000 bail during a court appearance Thursday. Mejia is accused of felony motor vehicle homicide while driving under the influence and faces 20 years in prison if convicted. According to prosecutors, he had a blood alcohol content of .241, more than three times the legal limit for driving.

On Friday, Schmaderer described the news of Root’s death as “pretty devastating” and said that Root’s work ethic helped her stand out. “She was going to be successful,” he said.

Mejia remained in jail Friday evening, with a hearing scheduled for later this month.

After the wreck Sunday, doctors at the Nebraska Medical Center told the family that Sarah Root wouldn’t make it, said her brother, Scott Root. She was an organ donor, so the family and hospital kept her on life support until Wednesday.

“She was able to save six lives,” her brother said. “Even though she passed, she was able to still give to others. She always gave to others.”

This report includes material from the World-Herald News Service.

Contact the writer: 402-444-1219, dgolden@owh.com

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