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Cass County Courthouse

PLATTSMOUTH – An Ashland man who led authorities on a drunk-driving high-speed chase in Cass County last summer entered pleas to four charges Monday morning.

Wade A. Smith, 29, appeared in Cass County District Court for a plea hearing. He accepted a plea agreement that reduced the number of charges against him from seven to four.

Smith pled no contest to one Class IIIA felony of commit child abuse, one Class IV felony of operating a motor vehicle to avoid arrest and one Class I misdemeanor of resisting arrest-first offense. He also pled no contest to one Class I misdemeanor of driving under the influence of alcohol-.15+-second offense.

The state agreed to dismiss a Class IIIA felony charge of assaulting a police officer-third degree and one Class IIIA felony of commit child abuse. Prosecutors also dismissed a Class IV felony of possession of controlled substance-hydrocodone. The plea agreement contained no recommendations regarding sentencing.

Cass County Attorney Colin Palm told the court an Ashland police officer was stationed at the Casey’s General Store in town at 11:32 p.m. July 17. A citizen alerted the officer about a pickup truck that was running with its lights off. The truck was stopped near a construction site in an alley just west of 14th Street. Smith was the driver of the pickup.

The officer began to approach the pickup to speak with Smith. Palm said Smith then sped away from the scene with the truck’s lights still off. The officer clocked the pickup going 52 mph in a 25-mph zone. He turned on his siren to try to initiate a traffic stop.

The pickup ran past a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 66 and Highway 6 in Ashland and continued on Highway 66 toward Cass County. Smith’s pickup reached speeds in excess of 100 mph as he crossed the county line. He soon turned onto 262nd Street and continued southbound at dangerous speeds.

Smith ran past another stop sign before intentionally turning his pickup into a cornfield located between Mill Road and Waverly Road on 262nd St. He then drove through the field and destroyed numerous cornstalks before crashing along a fence line.

Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Nebraska State Patrol troopers arrived on scene to assist Ashland police with the search for Smith. A K-9 unit from the Nebraska State Patrol also came to the area to help with the search. Authorities discovered the pickup truck in the cornfield and found Smith had abandoned it and fled on foot.

The NSP dog found Smith lying on the ground trying to hide in the cornfield. Two small children were with him and were covered in dirt and debris. Palm said both small children appeared very upset by the incident. Elmwood Rescue members and Cass County Emergency Medical Services personnel were called to the scene to check both children.

Smith initially refused to get up after state troopers and Ashland police ordered him to do so. They were eventually able to arrest him and escort him out of the cornfield at 12:35 a.m.

Smith kicked one of the troopers above the right knee as they were leading him to a squad car. Palm said authorities noticed Smith had bloodshot and watery eyes and was slurring his speech. They transported him to Saunders County Jail and administered a chemical test. The test revealed a blood-alcohol content level of .171.

Palm said Smith’s criminal history included one prior DUI conviction. That took place in 2010 in Lancaster County.

Smith remains free on bond. The court scheduled a sentencing hearing for April 8.

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