Illinois Man Gets 20 Years in Fatal Sidney Crash

Josef Slezak

Josef Slezak

(AP) — A 37-year-old Illinois truck driver has been given 20 years in prison for a crash in Nebraska last year that killed a Maryland family.

Josef Slezak was sentenced on Wednesday in Sidney. Slezak, of River Grove, Ill., had pleaded no contest to four counts of vehicular homicide and one count of vehicular homicide involving an unborn child. Prosecutors dropped four manslaughter counts in exchange.

Authorities say Slezak had been driving virtually nonstop from Milwaukee, Wis., and was in western Nebraska on Interstate 80 when he fell asleep at the wheel on Sept. 9, 2012. His semitrailer slammed into the back of a car, killing Christopher Schmidt, his wife, Diana Schmidt, and their children ages 2 and 3. Diana Schmidt was 30 weeks pregnant.

The Schmidts were from Gaithersburg, Md.

  • Beesma

    How sad… I pray for peace for both Slezak & the family & friends of the victims. What an horrendous thing to happen, on both sides. :o(

    Current score: 2
  • seriously!

    It is ridiculous to think this guy is a victim in this incident. He is limited on how much he can drive and was well over that limit. Should have been more than 20 years since his blatant disregard for the law killed 5 people. I think the penalty for violating any law in a semi should be increased and maybe things like this wouldn’t happen. Obviously he wasn’t too worried about the penalty when he killed these people. I guarantee there are plenty more just like him out there right now.

    Current score: 1