On September 15, 2015 at 6:37 p.m. the Knox County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call reporting that a bicyclist had been hit by a semi about a half mile east of the Blue Moon turn-off on Highway 12 and that the semi driver did not stop to help the bicyclist.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office and Niobrara Fire and Rescue responded to the scene. Off-duty deputies from the Sheriff’s Office were requested to report to duty and several other agencies were notified to attempt to locate the semi; which included the Santee Sioux Tribal Police, Crofton Police, Verdigre Police, Bon Homme County, and Yankton County.
During the investigation at the scene, the bicyclists were identified as Jennifer McMaken and Aaron Ritz from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Jennifer gave the investigating Deputy a description of the semi and trailer. Jennifer also told the investigating Deputy that she had purchased a large bag of honey while riding through the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation a couple of days previous. That bag of honey was torn open and splattered along the white line on Highway 12. Jennifer’s bicycle received about $450 worth of damage from the incident. Jennifer received first aid treatment at the scene from Niobrara Rescue for her injuries. Jennifer and Aaron were then taken to Niobrara to spend the night.
Several hours passed and multiple semis that matched the description from the victim, were inspected for evidence. Ultimately a semi owned by K&J Trucking from Sergeant Bluff, Iowa was located parked at the Argo Hotel in Crofton. The semi was being driven by Gerald Rains of Sioux City, Iowa. An inspection of the passenger’s side of the semi performed and honey was located in several areas on the truck. The driver was questioned about the incident. Evidence was collected from the semi and the driver was released pending an evidence comparison from the semi and the accident scene.
The next day Gerald Rains contacted the Knox County Sheriff’s deputy investigating the accident and confessed to the crime. Rains was cited, and will appear in the Knox County Court in October.
In other police reports, at 2 a.m. September 19, 2015 the Sheriff’s Office investigated a car vs. deer crash on 54D near mile marker #4. A Santee Police Department cruiser stuck a deer, causing extensive damage and requiring towing from the scene.
In the early morning hours of September 19, 2015 a vehicle struck the Nebraska sign at the base of Standing Bear Bridge. The vehicle was extensively damaged but managed to leave the scene. The accident is currently under investigation and any information on the wreck can be forwarded to the Sheriff’s Office
On September 14, Preston Gilpin, 19, of Santee was booked for Probation Violation, Possession of Meth, and Reckless Driving.
Dillon Denney, 23, of Santee was booked for Strangulation and Sexual Assault-3rd degree.
Jose Quintana, 18, of Santee was booked for Disturbing the Peace, Resisting arrest, Driving without and operator license and driving under the influence.
On September 16, Dalton Denney, 19, of Santee was booked for Contempt of Court, failure to pay fines and costs.
Ajay Bertschinger, 29, of Creighton was booked for DUI-3rd offense.
Russell Schill, 30, of Omaha was booked for Failure to Appear- Knox County Warrant.
Laura Calvillo, a.k.a Laura Saul, 49, of Santee was booked for Failure to Appear- Santee Warrant.
On September 18, Stefan Thomas James, 23, of Center was booked for Willful Reckless Driving, DUI, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia and Contempt of Court- Cedar Co. Warrant.
Luke McQuistan, 34, of O’Neill was booked for Fraud-Bad Check.
On September 19, Edward T. Taylor, 38, of Santee was booked for Domestic Assault.