Adams County Motor Vehicle Homicide case dropped after DUI evidence thrown out

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HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - After a judge ruled that Nebraska's drunk driving laws don't apply on certain classes of private property, prosecutors dropped a motor vehicle homicide charge against a Juniata man.

Peter Trausch, 22, was charged in the June 4, 2017, death of Abby Horsley, 22, of Hastings.

Court records show Trausch was driving a pickup in the area of Roseland Lake west of Hastings. Horsley, a passenger in his vehicle, was sitting on the passenger window with her arms and feet outside the pickup. When the pickup hit a bump in the road, Horsley was thrown from the vehicle and suffered injuries from which she later died.

Last month an Adams county district court judge threw out drunk driving evidence against Trausch.

Trausch's attorney argued that Nebraska's drunk driving laws apply only to drivers operating motor vehicles on public roadways or private areas to which the public has access. The area near Roseland Lake where Horsley's death occurred is property owned by the Little Blue Natural Resources District. Only Trausch and his family were allowed to drive on that property as permitted by an easement with the NRD.

District Judge Stephen Illingworth ruled that since the Horsley death occurred on private property not open to public access any DUI evidence gathered in the investigation should be suppressed and could not be used in the case against Trausch.

The Adams County Attorney filed an appeal to that ruling with the Nebraska Court of Appeals. The Appeals Court declined to hear the case.

The Adams County Attorney filed a motion to dismiss the case without prejudice, which means that other charges related to the case could still be filed. County Attorney Donna Fegler-Daiss told Local4 Wednesday that she plans to file a misdemeanor charge against Trausch at some point in the near future.