Man Sentenced for Deadly Ochlockonee River Crash

By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett; James Buechele Email
By: WCTV Eyewitness News; Lanetra Bennett; James Buechele Email
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UPDATE March 23, 2016 10:40 p.m.
By: James Buechele

"I have wanted, since the night that Jordan died, to approach you and tell you how sorry I am for your loss," said Jeffrey Rushing.

Rushing will spend the next 15 years behind bars. That's after being convicted of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

Jordan's mother says the apology didn't come off as sincere.

"It was awkward and compelled to do it instead of it was from his true heart," said Audrey Nedeau.

After a party with drinking and drugs, Rushing drove a vehicle into the Ochlockonee river back in August of 2014.

Rushing escaped but Jordan died that night.

"I understand there's nothing I can say to bring Jordan back," added Rushing.

Jordan's parents Audrey and John were all in the courtroom waiting to put an end to this difficult time in their lives.

"It's just living a nightmare. That whole year and a half holding your breath waiting to see how it's going to play out," said Audrey

"It's nice to have this behind us, said John. "There's no sentence that would be enough to bring her back."

And despite an emotional year and a half, the family hopes to find a silver lining.

"Maybe down the road, one day, a lot of people will benefit from this. If he can help other people maybe he can help other people maybe we can help other people."


Update: WCTV Eyewitness News
March 23, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Tallahassee man convicted in a deadly DUI crash into Ochlockonee River in August 2014 has been sentenced.

Wednesday, Jeffrey Rushing was sentenced to 15 years in prison plus 5 years probation.

In January, Rushing was convicted of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.

Rushing was convicted of driving his truck off the Tower Road boat ramp and crashing into the Ochlockonee River. Rushing was able to get out, but his friend, 20-year-old Jordan Nedeau, drowned.

In court Wednesday, Rushing briefly apologized to Jordan's family who was present.

"I wanted since the night that Jordan died to approach you and tell you how sorry I am for your loss. I understand there's nothing I can say to bring Jordan back," Rushing said.

Jordan's father, John Nedeau, says he wanted Rushing to serve 20 years and 32 days. That's how old Jordan was when she died.

Jordan's family says they are grateful for the legal system and the community for getting them through this.

"There's some closure. You feel good, but it's odd. It's nice to have this behind us, there's no sentence enough to bring her back," said John Nedeau.

Rushing's defense team says they plan on appealing the sentence.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
January 28, 2016 - 4:50pm

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The jury has reached a verdict in the DUI manslaughter case of Jeffrey Rushing.

Jeffrey Rushing has been found guilty as charged on all counts, including DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.

In 2014, Rushing's SUV crashed into the Ochlockonee River and a Tallahassee woman, 20-year-old Jordan Nedeau, was later found dead inside.

Deliberation began around 10:15 a.m Thursday, and the jury reached the verdict around 4 p.m.


By: WCTV Eyewitness News
January 27, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Day two of the trial of a man who crashed an SUV into a river, killing a woman, began Wednesday morning.

Video of Jeffrey Rushing's police interview was played in court.

In the video Rushing said that he and Jordan Nedeau were in his SUV when they drove down Tower Road and then onto a boat ramp.

Rushing then said the next thing he knew, the truck was in the Ochlockonee River and he didn't know how he got out, but he was not able to get Nedeau.

He also admitted to taking Xanax, drinking 14 beers, doing cocaine and smoking marijuana the night of the incident.

Rushing and his mom went to the Leon County Sheriff's Office to report what happened eleven hours after the crash.

The video shows that when the officer asked why Rushing didn't get help immediately, Rushing said he didn't know and that he'd made a bad mistake.

The defense said this morning that there's reasonable doubt as to whether Rushing was the driver during the crash.

In his recorded police interview, Rushing said he was driving and Nedeau was giving him directions.

The medical examiner testified that from looking at Nedeau's body, it appears she was in the passenger side of the vehicle.

"If someone is in the driver's seat, and you go forward, there's going to be an injury to the chest. If someone is in the passenger's seat, and is not restrained, then there's nothing to stop their chest area and they will go forward and their head will hit either the dashboard or the windshield," said medical examiner Lisa Flanagan.

Defense attorney Tim Jansen says the fact that the driver side window was the only window window that wasn't down can show Rushing wasn't in the driver's seat.

Other questions Jansen raised in court were about Rushing's state of mind and intoxication level.

Through the recorded interview with police, the court was able to hear Rushing say that he blacked out at some point after getting out of the water.

Although Rushing admitted to being intoxicated and taking several drugs, Rushing wasn't drug tested right away, attorney Jansen says leaves room for doubt in the case.

Just after 5 p.m. Wednesday, the prosecution rested its case and the defense called its first witness to the stand.

A clinical psychologist and the Jeffrey Rushing's mother are among those expected to testify.

Closing statements are set for Thursday morning.


By: Lanetra Bennett
January 26, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- An SUV crashed into a river, and a Tallahassee woman was later found dead inside.

Her friend is accused of causing that 2014 crash and leaving her behind in the sinking vehicle.

Jeffrey Rushing is now on trial and is facing charges of DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and leaving the scene of an accident involving a death.

The trial began Tuesday morning.

The prosecution said Rushing didn't report the crash or that Nedeau was missing until 11 hours after the accident.

Prosecutor Georgia Cappleman said, "He passed multiple residences. He passed a fire station without making any attempt to get her assistance. He even got a ride home with a deputy sheriff and did not mention the young woman drowning in his vehicle."

Authorities say on August 2, 2014, Rushing and Nedeau went for a drive after a night of partying. He drove down Tower Road, and ended up in the Ochlockonee River.

Rushing's statement says he got out of the SUV, but couldn't rescue Nedeau.

Their friend, Skyler Smalley, testified Rushing and his friends were reluctant to call police. She said, "We wanted to but we weren't just going to tell them everything at first. We wanted to do as much as we could ourselves. But, it got to a point later that afternoon we knew what we had to do. We thought that if we could find her, we wouldn't have to tell the cops everything we did that night, then we would be okay."

Nedeau was found dead inside the SUV once it was pulled out of the water early the next morning.

The defense says the prosecution cannot prove Rushing was the one driving at the time of the crash. Defense attorneys say Nedeau's cell phone was found in the driver's seat and Rushing's wallet was found in the back seat. They say if Rushing was not the driver, he is not responsible for what happened.

The trial continues Wednesday.


By: Julie Montanaro
January 25, 2016

A Tallahassee man goes on trial this week. He's accused of driving drunk and killing a friend.

Jeffrey Rushing is charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a deadly crash in August 2014.

Rushing is accused of driving his truck off the Tower Road boat ramp and into the Ochlockonee River. Rushing was able to get out, but his friend Jordan Nedeau drowned.

Court papers say Rushing admitted to doing drugs and drinking more than a case of beer in the hours before the accident.

Testimony in the case is expected to begin Tuesday morning.

The trial is expected to last two days.


UPDATED
By: Julie Montanaro
August 14, 2014

A Tallahassee man is now facing more charges in a deadly plunge into the Ochlockonee River.

Jeffrey Rushing was arrested last week and accused of driving his truck off a boat ramp and into the Ochlockonee River - with a friend inside.

Rushing was able to get out, arrest papers say, but his friend 20-year-old Jordan Nedeau drowned.

Rushing was initially arrested and charged with DUI manslaughter, court records show.

Prosecutors tell us they are now adding charges of vehicular homicide and leaving the scene of a deadly accident. Prosecutors are still awaiting toxicology reports - but arrest papers say Rushing admitted to using drugs and drinking more than a dozen beers in the hours before the crash.


A Tallahassee Community College student accused of killing his classmate by accidentally driving into the Ochlockonee River is out of jail.

Jeffrey Rushing, 20, is free on bond after making his first court appearance Monday.

It all started with what was supposed to be a fun weekend with friends.

According to court records, Rushing first showed up at a home in the 2500 block of Golden Park Lane at about four o'clock Friday afternoon.

Five friends were there including Jordan Nedeau.

"There's usually just lots of friends, I guess people they know all the time over there, driveway is always full," said neighbor Sean Powell.

Rushing told a Leon County Sheriff's detective he drank several beers hanging out at the home then went to a club at about 8 Friday night.

He says the friends returned to the home about 2 Saturday morning for an after party.

At about 4, Rushing says Jordan told him she wanted to leave.

Rushing says following Jordan's directions, he drove down Tower Road and accidentally past the boat ramp into the Ochlocknee River.

He says he was able to escape, but couldn't open the passenger door or break the window to get Jordan out.

A dive team later found the vehicle and Jordan's body.

"It's a terrible tragedy for a family and it's a nightmare for both families," said Tim Jansen, Rushing's attorney.

John Nedeau, a former pitcher for Florida State's baseball team in the early 90's, is Jordan's father.

He says Rushing was friends with Jordan's boyfriend.

He also says Jordan graduated with honors from Chipley High School in Washington County and was attending TCC.

He says Jordan was planning to go to FSU once she was finished at TCC.

John says his FSU baseball family has been very supportive, including when his dad died in his 40's when John was playing for the Seminoles.

He says they're also supportive now as he faces the tragic loss of his daughter.

Rushing told the detective in the roughly 12 hours before the accident, he had one xanax pill,1 liquor shot, 1 line of powder cocaine, two bumps of powder cocaine and about 14 beers.

Rushing was released on a $10,000 bond.

As part of the terms of his release, he'll be tested for drugs and alcohol, must live with his parents in Gadsden County and can't drive.


Press Release by LCSO

Tallahassee, Fla.

The Leon County Sheriff’s Office has arrested Jeffrey Rushing, 20, in connection with the death of Jordan Rae Nedeau, 20, after deputies learned Rushing drove his 2001 Isuzu Rodeo into the Ochlockonee River near the end of Tower Road with Nedeau inside.

At 9:22 am on August 2, 2014, a Leon County Deputy responded to a call in reference to a man being passed out near a business at Woodlane Circle and Capital Circle NW. The deputy made contact with the man and identified him as Rushing. He was transported to 2513 Golden Park Lane after being informed that he had walked away from a party while intoxicated.

At 4:40 pm on August 2, 2014, Rushing went to the Leon County Sheriff’s Office with his mother and told deputies that he needed to provide them with additional information. Deputies then learned that
Rushing and Nedeau had been with friends the previous evening at a local night club and then later at the Golden Park Lane residence. Deputies learned that Rushing became intoxicated at the Golden Park Lane residence and left driving his Isuzu Rodeo with Nedeau as a passenger.

Detectives determined that Rushing was driving in the area of Tower Road. LCSO’s Tactical Dive Team responded and located the vehicle submerged in the Ochlockonee River and recovered Nedeau’s body
inside at 1:20 am on August 3, 2014. Rushing was arrested and taken to the Leon County Jail.

Preliminary results from an autopsy performed on August 3, 2014, indicated Nedeau’s death was due to drowning. This investigation is continuing and any additional information will be released when
available.


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