Witness guided officers to man suspected of fleeing scene of fatal Omaha collision, police say

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OMAHA, Nebraska — Police are praising a witness who guided officers to a man suspected of leaving the scene of a fatal collision in north-central Omaha.

The accident occurred Sunday afternoon when a man driving an estimated 100 mph rammed another car from behind, knocking it into the path of an oncoming pickup, police said. The woman driving the car, 63-year-old Kathleen Benes, of Valparaiso, was pronounced dead at the scene. The pickup driver was taken to a hospital.

The man sped off, police said in a news release, but was followed by Stephen Grasso, 69, of Omaha, who said he'd been following the other car because it had raced off after hitting his car just a few blocks from the second accident.

Grasso called 911 and relayed information about the car he was following until it parked at an apartment complex, police said. Grasso said he parked behind the man's car so it couldn't leave, and the man got out and started apologizing.

"I told him to apologize to those (other) people" he hit, Grasso told the Omaha World-Herald.

Police praised Grasso's initiative.

"He did not engage the suspect or the driver in any way," Sgt. Chuck Casey told Omaha television station KETV. "He did call 911 and get all the information that he needed to give, which gave us enough information to locate that vehicle and make an arrest," Casey said.

Police identified the man as Justin Ayers, 35, of Omaha. He remained in custody on Monday. It's unclear whether he has a lawyer who could be contacted to comment on his behalf.

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