Akron Woman Charged with Manslaughter for Causing Multi-Vehicle Crash in Clarence, Killing Another Driver

Modified: April 7, 2021 11:21am

4/7/2021

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announces that 37-year-old Jessica A. Novak of Akron was arraigned last night before Clarence Town Court Justice Michael B. Powers on the following charges:

  • One count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Class “C” felony)
  • One count of Vehicular Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Class “D” felony)
  • One count of Reckless Driving (Class “A” misdemeanor)

It is alleged that on January 19, 2021, at approximately 12:50 p.m., the defendant was driving at a high-rate of speed while impaired by a drug on Main Street near in the Town of Clarence when she caused a crash involving multiple vehicles.

The defendant’s vehicle allegedly crossed into the turning lane and hit another vehicle that was turning left onto Goodrich Road. The driver of that vehicle, 65-year-old Jeanette Helms of Clarence, was fatally injured and died at the scene. The initial collision caused a chain reaction crash involving two other vehicles.

The defendant was taken to ECMC for various injuries. The drivers of the other two vehicles suffered minor injuries.

Novak is scheduled to return for a felony hearing on Friday, April 9, 2021 for a felony hearing. She was held on $25,000 bail. At the request of the prosecutor, Justice Powers revoked the defendant’s driver’s license.

If convicted of all charges, Novak faces a maximum of 15 years in prison.

DA Flynn commends the Erie County Sheriff’s Office for their work in the investigation.  

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Christopher McCarthy of the DA’s Vehicular Crimes Bureau.  

As are all persons accused of a crime, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.