Nebraska City mourns the loss of a man who was a mentor, active in the community, a good family man and friend.
Investigators are still trying to determine just what caused a head on collision on Highway 75 that killed 21-year-old Efrain Soto of Omaha and 43-year-old Doctor Dion Higgins of Nebraska City near Murray around 5:30 Sunday morning.
“I came over the hill and I saw the flames.”
Mark Cain was there moments after the collision.
The truck driven by Higgins was on fire. Cain said the heat was so severe, the tires on the 2012 truck driven by Higgins were exploding.
There was nothing Cain could do.
“You don't know how many people are involved,” he said. “You know there's the family and everything else. It's just a terrible feeling.”
Higgins was a chiropractor in Nebraska City. He was heading to a triathlon in Papillion Sunday morning.
Long time friend Dave Partsch remembers Higgins and his commitment to others.
“Just an incredible person,” he said. “Always happy, always trying to help other people. Even in his practice he was focused on how he could help people live a better life.”
It was a tough day for the workers at Nebraska City Chiropractic. Well wishers and former patients left flowers at the door of the temporarily closed business.
Some came in and hugged the staff.
“The patients are so upset by the loss of Doctor Higgins,” employee Kim Schneider said. “He was a very kind man a very a very caring man. He loved you...he just loved you.”
“Doctor Higgins was the best boss I ever had,” Office Manager Lisa Hasselbring said as she fought back tears. “He was a caring man and he just cared so much for his patients.”
Lisa Jewell was a patient of Higgins for ten years. She has worked at the chiropractic office the past two months.
“(I) trusted him,” she said. “Just thought he was a wonderful man and I've known the staff for a very long time too and I just wanted to work here.”
Tami Champlin summed up the feelings of everyone.
“Just knowing that he's not here and that his black truck's not going to be in the parking lot anymore...I'm still in shock,” she said.
As the healing here begins, these women remember one important lesson they learned from Doctor Higgins.
“He didn't want you to be in pain,” Jewell said. “He wanted you to get better.”
Higgins wanted to share his concept of healthy living with his patients by offering to train them to compete in the Apple Jack 5 Mile Fun Run on September 21st.
The office workers plan to carry out that wish.
A visitation for Doctor Higgins is set for Tuesday from 5PM until seven at Peterson Mortuary in Nebraska City.
A celebration of his life is set for 11 am Wednesday at First United Methodist Church