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No DUI charges approved in Nye County crash that killed 3 in March

A motorist initially accused of driving while impaired in a Nye County crash that killed two adults and a child has not been charged with the crime nearly three months later, according to court records.

The Nevada Highway Patrol initially said in a news release that Tyler Kennedy, 33, of Tolleson, Arizona, was arrested on suspicion of impaired driving in the March 27 crash on U.S. Highway 95 north of Beatty.

According to the Highway Patrol, Kennedy was driving a Ford F-150 that collided with a Toyota Highlander. Three of the Toyota’s occupants, Michael Durmeier, 39, Lauren Starcevich, 38, and Durmeier’s 12-year-old daughter, Georgia, died at the scene.

A GoFundMe page identified Starcevich as Michael Durmeier’s fiancee. They were all from Victor, Idaho, a small city near the Wyoming border, the Highway Patrol has said, and they were traveling on a “fun-filled spring break adventure” at the time of the crash, according to the fundraiser.

The Highway Patrol initially said Kennedy faced three counts of DUI resulting in death, two counts of DUI resulting in substantial bodily harm and five counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm. He also faced one count each of possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, failure to drive on the right half of the road, driving with a canceled driver’s license and not wearing a seat belt.

However, a criminal complaint filed in Beatty Justice Court shows that Nye County prosecutors have approved five felony counts of reckless driving resulting in death or substantial bodily harm.

The Highway Patrol has denied a Las Vegas Review-Journal request for an arrest report in the case, citing an ongoing investigation. The agency referred all questions about charges against Kennedy to the Nye County district attorney’s office.

Nye County District Attorney Christopher Arabia wrote in an email late last week that “as of now, Mr. Kennedy is not charged with DUI.”

“At (a) June 14 hearing, the parties discussed the need for more lab work and expert review of certain evidence,” Arabia wrote. “The Judge set a new preliminary hearing date of August 30th and 31st. My office is working hard to answer the question of whether the evidence will support DUI charges. We’re doing everything we can to try to get justice for the victims and their families and friends, the community at large, and all involved. So many people have been traumatized.”

Kennedy’s defense attorney, Jason Earnest, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The Highway Patrol said the crash unfolded within a few miles of the Scotty’s Junction turnoff for Death Valley National Park. Kennedy’s truck was headed north on the highway as Durmeier’s SUV was headed south with Starcevich, Georgia and two other children in the car.

For unknown reasons, the Ford partially veered into the southbound lane, striking the driver’s side of Durmeier’s SUV. The SUV overturned, and Starcevich and two children were thrown from the car, the Highway Patrol said.

The other two children were taken to University Medical Center, where one was in critical condition and the other was expected to survive, according to a news release issued shortly after the crash. Online records from the Nye County Detention Center, meanwhile, indicate that Kennedy remained in custody as of Monday morning.

Contact Glenn Puit by email at gpuit@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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