A man charged with misdemeanor motor vehicle homicide in the death of an off-duty Ashland police officer was sentenced Tuesday to a year of jail and a $1,000 fine, the charge's maximum penalty.
Shawn M. Stryker, 23, of Ashland, in May had pleaded no contest to causing an accident that led to the death of Daniel Ottis, 58, a 10-year veteran of the Ashland Police Department.
Stryker said he was groggy behind the wheel of his pickup truck when he approached another pickup truck that had stopped to turn on eastbound U.S. Highway 6 near 234th Street. Stryker struck the stopped vehicle and then collided with Ottis' motorcyle in the westbound lane.
At the sentencing hearing Tuesday, Stryker told Sarpy County District Judge David Arterburn that he was sorry for his actions and that every time he drives past the scene of the accident he reflects on the tragedy.
“I take my hat off and pay my respects,” he said.
Ottis' sister, Val Bohaty, said that whether Stryker is in jail for six months or a year, it won't bring her brother back. Ottis' family suspects Stryker was using his cell phone at the time of the accident.
Bohaty she said she hopes Ottis' death will teach people not to talk on their cell phones when they drive, even though Stryker said it was his sleepiness that caused him to veer into the truck.
“Just ignore the phone or pull over,” she said.
Aterburn said whatever the reason for Stryker's inattentive driving at the time of the accident in August, he was acting irresponsibly behind the wheel, which is why he sentenced Stryker to the maximum penalty.
“You took your life and everybody's lives into your hands,” the judge said. “And your hands were incapable that day.”