Arrests made in alcohol-related crash that killed 17-year-old Elkhorn student

Arrests made in alcohol-related crash that killed 17-year-old Elkhorn student
Kevin Hart

Authorities say a clerk at a Kwik Shop and two teenage boys provided the alcohol that contributed to the October death of a 17-year-old Elkhorn High School student.

George I. Gervase was found dead near 192nd and Pacific Streets, where he had crashed the 2005 Nissan Altima he was driving. He had a blood alcohol content of .217. The legal limit for driving for adults 21 and over is .08.

Kevin Hart, 29, a clerk at the Kwik Shop at 156th and Blondo Streets, has been charged with procuring alcohol resulting in a death, said Brenda Beadle, chief deputy attorney for the Douglas County Attorney’s Office. A felony, the charge carries a maximum of three years in prison. Hart will have a court date later this week.

Additionally, a 17-year-old boy and a 16-year-old boy face the same charge in juvenile court, she said. The investigation is ongoing.

Authorities say a witness told them that she and Gervase purchased alcohol from three other Elkhorn High students on Oct. 11 in the school parking lot.

Security cameras show a white Chevy pickup and a black car meeting in the parking lot. The video also shows a passenger getting out of the black car, which officers think was the car Gervase later crashed.

George Gervase

The meeting occurred about 11:45 p.m. on Oct. 11, and Gervase’s wrecked car was found at 6:40 a.m. the next day.

Crash scene investigators said he was speeding south on 192nd Street when his car left the roadway and struck a wooden power pole and fence.

Gervase’s family declined to comment Monday.

Chris Wagner, executive director of Project Extra Mile, said compliance checks in the Omaha area have shown that an average of 7 percent of stores and bars will sell alcohol to people younger than 21. Project Extra Mile, which combats drinking-related problems, sends minors to stores and bars to see if businesses will serve the youths alcohol even though the youths’ identification indicates that they’re not old enough.

Stores that do so are violating the state’s liquor control laws, he said. A first offense typically leads to a 10- to 20-day suspension of a store’s liquor license, which a violator can choose to pay in the form of a fine. A 10-day suspension equates to a $500 fine, he said.

“Too often, the blame on underage drinking is focused on the youths themselves,” Wagner said. “Adults play an important role, too, and we need to focus on both.”