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Ashland man pleads guilty to vehicular homicide

Derek Lee Nelis

An Ashland man who was behind the wheel in a fatal 2014 crash in the town of Maple will be sentenced next month.

Derek Lee Nelis, 46, pleaded no contest in Douglas County Circuit Court Tuesday to one felony count of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle. Judge George Glonek scheduled sentencing for March 29.

The class G felony carries a maximum sentence of 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $25,000. Three counts of felony bail jumping that were connected with a 2016 incident were dismissed.

According to the criminal complaint:

Nelis was driving west on U.S. Highway 2 when he crossed the centerline in front of an eastbound semitruck on the morning of Aug. 16, 2014. The driver of the semi told Deputy Joe Holmstrom of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office that Nelis' vehicle came straight toward him without swerving or making any evasive maneuvers.

The passenger in Nelis' vehicle, 18-year-old Gabrielle Bresette of Ashland, died as a result of the crash.

A blood draw conducted after the crash showed Nelis had methamphetamine and amphetamine in his blood.