PLATTSMOUTH – Cassgram reports on an emotional sentencing hearing after four people died as a result of injuries sustained in the Jan. 31, 2021, collision on Highway 75 about one mile south of the Highway 34 intersection near Union.

The victims were age 4, age 5, age 21 and age 22. All were from the Topeka, Kan. area.

Just over a dozen of their family members were in the Cass County Courtroom on Friday for the sentencing of the 57-year-old driver who hit the vehicle they were in head-on. Three of them—two grandparents and a mother—spoke during the hearing.

 The man being sentenced, Ronald Dubas of La Vista, sobbed as he read his statement that included the words, “I’m so sorry.”

 Cass County Court Judge David Partsch said he “spent a lot of time” reviewing the 90 pages in pre-sentencing reports hoping he could find some answers why the collision occurred so there could be “some closure,” but he was unable to find the answers for the families.

 The pain of the uncertainty of the cause of the crash was a predominant point expressed by the judge, the prosecuting attorney, the defense attorney, the defendant and family members.

 Dubas told the court all he can remember of the accident are seeing lights and being pulled from the wreckage of his vehicle. Dubas had broken bones including a broken leg, head trauma and lacerations.

 There was a fifth individual in the Kansas vehicle that survived the crash. Family members have a hard time understanding how she can remember everything, but Dubas says he does not.

 Dubas was the driver of a 2000 Chevrolet GMT-4000. Through roadway evidence, witness statements and vehicle damage, the state patrol determined the Dubas vehicle was northbound in the southbound lane when it collided into a 2009 Chevrolet Cobalt. A southbound 2003 Mercury Mountaineer ahead of the Cobalt had swerved to avoid a collision.

 Dubas told law enforcement he was distraught over a family matter and may have been wiping tears out of his eyes with his forearm. Other possible reasons he gave: there may have an animal in the road or he may have been passing another vehicle. It’s been stated a medical condition that affects the hands and fingers could have affected his grip on the steering wheel.

 Cass County Attorney Chris Perrone referred to these as “excuses” and questioned if Dubas should have been driving if he was not in a proper state of mind or healthy enough.

 Alcohol use and phone distractions were ruled out as factors. Excessive speed wasn’t determined to be a factor.

 Perrone told the judge a jail sentence would be “most appropriate.”

 A family member urged jail time, saying probation is for shoplifters.

 Defense attorney Angela Minahan asked for probation. She said Dubas is “extremely remorseful” and had no criminal record.

 Judge Partsch read the names of those killed, Malaysia Reece, Keniah Robinson, Ashly Bracken and Tatiyana Wade.

 Partsch acknowledged Dubas had led a “law abiding life.”

 The maximum jail time would have been one year on each count. That would be just over two years total under Nebraska law for accumulating credit for good time served.

 Partsch announced this sentence on the four Class 1 Misdemeanor counts:

 -24 months on probation (4 counts, served concurrently)

 -$1000 in fines plus court costs

 -84 days in jail that include that-day sentences on the birth dates of the victims and the anniversary of the collision during the next two years. Most of the 84 day sentence is a 60 day sentence at the end of the probation term that can be waived by the court if probation is completed satisfactorily.

 -24 months with no driving privileges of any vehicle.

 -100 hours community service

 -Letters of apology are to be written to the families. Partsch turned to the families and told them they have the choice not to receive the letters.