Man to be tried in death of firefighter’s wife | NevadaAppeal.com
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Man to be tried in death of firefighter’s wife

by F.T. Norton

A judge determined Tuesday there is enough evidence to try a Reno man in the pedestrian death of a Virginia Foothills woman.

On Aug. 13, Jonathan Hyde was driving a vehicle that struck Storey County firefighter Darin Berry and his wife, Kelly, as they walked along the roadside.

Kelly, 25, didn’t survive her injuries. Darin Berry, also 25, suffered a fracture to his leg.

Hyde, 39, is charged with one count of driving under the influence causing death, one count of driving under the influence causing substantial bodily harm, possession of methamphetamine and two counts of reckless driving.

According to court documents, he had five times the statutory limit of marijuana in his blood and nearly twice the limit of methamphetamine when he careened across Toll Road and struck the newlyweds as they walked home from a trip to 7-Eleven. Methamphetamine was allegedly found in his backpack following the accident.

“I’m relieved,” Kelly’s mother, Janice Tassi, sobbed outside the courtroom as she hugged supporters following the judge’s ruling. “You just can’t believe that this is your life.”

Tassi and her husband, Richard, came from Susanville, Calif., to attend the hearing before Reno Justice Court Judge Edward Dannan. Their daughter, Angel, flew in from Idaho.

“Kelly was precious to all of us and Jonathan destroyed her life and ours,” she said.

Firefighters from various Northern Nevada jurisdiction have been working Darin Berry’s shift at the Storey County Fire Department since the accident. He is working light duty now and hopes to return to work full-time in February.

“Everyone pitched in,” he said Tuesday from the home he once shared with his wife. “The boys have stepped up and done this continuously since Aug. 13. It’s amazing.”

During the hearing Tuesday morning, Berry was called to testify about the accident that claimed the life of his “best friend.”

“We were walking home holding hands on Toll Road just kind of enjoying the area. There was no one around, we had no cell phones, it was just the two of us,” he said Tuesday evening. “I remember hearing just a little bit of gravel noise, then a thud from both of us getting hit. He had to be going like 40-45 mph. It felt fast. Then l can remember seeing his taillights as he hit a sidewalk and glanced off the light post. I yelled for Kelly. Just two seconds ago we were holding hands.”

Berry said he knew his leg was broken. As a firefighter he’d seen injuries like his before, he said. “I didn’t care, I was 1,000 percent concerned about Kelly.”

A passerby gave him a cell phone and Berry called for help, identifying himself to dispatchers. He asked for them to send a Care Flight helicopter. He remembered seeing Hyde walking away from his vehicle.

“He never bothered to see how we were,” he said.

When help did arrive, Berry continued to ask about his wife’s condition. Paramedics told him they were “doing the best they can,” he said.

Just before he was put on the helicopter, he learned her fate.

“I kept asking, how’s my wife, how’s my baby?” he said. “Finally one of the paramedics came up and said that she passed away, that she’s in heaven now.”

Tuesday’s hearing was difficult for him and for Kelly’s family, he admitted, but there’s comfort in knowing Hyde is being held accountable in some way.

“Their daughter was killed and my best friend is gone. The only way we are going to get this guy is the justice system,” he said. “Today was really hard. I’m looking at the guy that caused our family this much pain. He can go home for the holidays. Kelly didn’t deserve this. What a beautiful girl she was. She touched so many lives.”

No date has been set for Hyde’s arraignment in district court. If convicted he faces up to 50 years in prison.

Contact F.T. Norton at ftnorton@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1213.