Criminal charges dropped for Nevada driver who killed 2 kids

AP News
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Posted: Dec 10, 2015 5:04 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The case against a 66-year-old Nevada man accused of driving despite feeling a seizure before a crash that killed two young children has been dismissed, thanks to a state law that allows his criminal charges to be settled out of court.

Reno City Attorney Karl Hall said Municipal Court Judge William Gardner on Monday dismissed the two misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges against Sheldon Berg after a petition was filed for the settlement.

Hall said Berg met with the family and took responsibility for his actions. The settlement terms, which weren't disclosed, were reached in November between the driver and the family of the 2-year-old boy, Sabadel Gomez Rubio, and 4-year-old girl, Desdeiry Candelaria Gomez Rubio.

Lawyers for both Berg and the children's family couldn't immediately be reached.

Authorities have alleged that Berg was negligent in the fatal crash because the man said he felt a seizure coming on but chose to drive to the grocery store anyway on June 22. The charges of felony reckless driving causing death were ultimately ruled out. The Washoe County District Attorney's office said it couldn't prove a conscious disregard for safety.

Hall then filed to the Reno municipal court misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter charges, which came with a penalty of up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, with penalties doubled if the sentences run consecutively for each victim.

But Nevada state law allows a misdemeanor crime to be settled out of court as long as the offense doesn't involve a peace officer or domestic violence-related battery or order of protection, and wasn't committed with felony intent, or in a violent or uncontrolled way.

Hall said he didn't have legal standing to object to the settlement or further pursue the case but that the city will work on potential policy changes in hopes of preventing another tragic case involving medical at-risk drivers.

"That's the problem with the criminal justice system in any loss of life situation — there's no bringing them back," Hall said of the children. "I don't know that anybody's ever satisfied."

Berg's license was cancelled after the crash but he sought to get it back in July, just weeks after the crash. He was previously on an active, restricted license that required an annual doctor's note. Berg's mother has said that his medical condition was on-going.

He has been required to submit letters from a doctor certifying his ability to drive at least since 2013, when he was involved in an accident after suffering a medical episode, the DMV said. His driver's license has been suspended at least six times since 2002.