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Cass County Courthouse photo

PLATTSMOUTH – A Cass County man who collided with a power pole, totaled a parked car and damaged part of a Beaver Lake residence while drunk will serve a jail sentence.

Beaver Lake resident John P. Folsom, 43, appeared in Cass County District Court Monday morning. He pled no contest in January to one Class W misdemeanor of driving under the influence of alcohol-third offense.

Folsom was arrested July 28 after he drove from Plattsmouth to Beaver Lake in an intoxicated manner. Concerned citizens called authorities about his behavior at Hy-Vee Gas on Highway 75. They said he had almost collided with gas pumps and a parked vehicle at the business and had started driving on the highway.

Citizens began following Folsom on Highway 75 and provided updates to authorities on his location. One of the citizens watched Folsom drive into a ditch and weave across the road. Cass County Attorney Colin Palm said Folsom turned from the highway onto Rock Bluff Road in front of a semi. The semi driver had to apply brakes in order to avoid hitting Folsom’s pickup truck.

Folsom sped down Rock Bluff Road before his vehicle went airborne and severed a wooden power pole. The truck went over a retaining wall and crushed another car after landing on it. Folsom’s truck then went onto a driveway and lawn of a Beaver Lake home. Palm said the force of the collision was hard enough to cause approximately $7,500 in damage to the driveway and lawn.

Palm said Folsom’s insurance company had already paid a settlement to the owner of the other car. The insurance company is still working on providing compensation to the landowner.

Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies, Murray Fire and Rescue personnel and Omaha Public Power District employees all responded to the scene. Palm said they had trouble reaching Folsom’s vehicle because live electrical wires from the power pole had fallen onto the ground. Authorities closed Rock Bluff Road for a short time because of the live wires.

Rescue units extracted Folsom from his truck and transported him to University of Nebraska Medical Center’s trauma unit. Medical staff conducted a blood draw at 11:18 p.m. and found his blood-alcohol content level was .109.

“Frankly, the defendant is lucky to be alive with what happened here,” Palm said. “We’re all lucky no one else was hurt as a result of this.”

Palm said the Cass County incident marked Folsom’s fifth lifetime DUI offense. His first two DUI offenses came in Douglas County in August and September 2000. A third crime happened in 2005 in Morrill County and the fourth took place in 2010 in Lancaster County.

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The state is only able to apply DUI offenses that happened within the previous 15 years to any new charge. This meant prosecutors could only enhance the 2018 incident to a charge of DUI-third offense.

Palm said Folsom received probation in each of the 2000 cases and also in the 2005 case. He spent 120 days in jail after the 2010 DUI conviction.

“It’s certainly concerning with this being over a 19-year timeframe,” Palm said. “That is a lot of DUIs to amass in a lifetime.”

Palm said Folsom had been convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in 2009. He was sentenced to 257 days in jail. He later received 12 months of probation for an assault charge in 2015.

Palm said he felt jail was necessary because of the dangerous nature of the drunk-driving crash. He also said Folsom had not corrected his previous behaviors even after receiving probation in earlier DUI cases.

Defense attorney Ann Addison-Wageman said she felt probation would benefit society more than a jail term. She said she had known Folsom for more than ten years and said he needed to be enrolled in therapy and treatment sessions. She said probation would help him remain in a productive place in society.

“My experience with Mr. Folsom is that he does well when he is medicated and addresses his sobriety,” Addison-Wageman said. “I think you see these results in prior probations. Mr. Folsom doesn’t have disrespect for the law and he doesn’t thumb his nose at rules. When he is not in therapy his mental health deteriorates, and he has episodes that have led to his arrests.”

Judge Michael Smith said probation was not a viable option. He said Folsom had been driving on a suspended license at the time and would be a risk to re-offend if he was placed on probation.

Smith ordered Folsom to serve one year in Cass County Jail. He must pay a mandatory $1,000 fine and will have his driver’s license suspended for 15 years. Folsom will be able to apply for an ignition interlock device permit after 45 days without driving.

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