Prosecutor takes ‘duty to render aid’ case to trial in Nemaha County

AUBURN  - Dustin Pierce, 33, of Auburn is on trial in Nemaha County on charges that he failed to render aid after his Ford Fusion hit a pedestrian near Auburn on Mother’s Day 2020.

Defense Attorney Kaz Long stipulated that the pedestrian, Katelynn Moore, sustained serious bodily injury to cut short the testimony of Moore’s mother.

Dr. Jordan Bowling, a surgeon at Bryan Health, testified that Moore suffered significant, long-term damage to her brain and arrived at the hospital unable to perform basic life support functions. He said she would have died if not for medical intervention.

Moore’s mother said, after 30 days in intensive care and about month after her admittance to Madonna Rehabilitation,  her daughter began to show signs that she recognized her.

Moore’s husband said she told him she was going out for a walk and was later found about four blocks from the house on 728 Road, an asphalt road known locally as Detour Road.

Moore was discovered by a bicyclist and the sheriff’s office sent out a press release reporting a hit-and-run.

Neighbor Kent Allen said vehicle debris was found near where Moore lay and sheriff’s deputies say they were able to identify parts from a gray, Ford Fusion.

Deputies inspected all gray Ford Fusions they could find in the following days, but none had damage. Then they received an anonymous call regarding Pierce’s vehicle.

Deputy Casey Moyer said they found the car in Pierce’s garage.

Nemaha County Attorney Louie Ligouri played a video recording for the court of  an interview in which Pierce told deputies that he had hit a deer coming back from Tarkio, Mo.

When asked why cameras at the Auburn Airport did not show any damage to his car, Pierce said the collision happened on Detour Road. He said he had dropped his phone and was reaching for it when the collision made him look up.

Chief Deputy Dan Johnson told Pierce he had a legal duty to render reasonable aid, but Pierce said he thought he had hit a deer or coyote and continued down the road.

Pierce: “If I had known it was a person, I would have come forward,” he told investigators.

Pierce’s girlfriend, Megan Culver, said he covered the windows of his garage with garbage bags after he received a phone call telling him that a woman had been hit on Detour Road.

There is no jury in the bench trial, which will be decided by Judge Julie Smith.