Four men were killed when a car collided head-on with a pickup near Waterloo, Nebraska Friday morning. Investigators said fog and icy road conditions contributed to the crash.
Douglas County Sheriff''s Department Chief Deputy Marty Bilek tells Channel 6 News the car was heading eastbound on Highway 275 near West Maple Road around 5 a.m. when it went out of control on an overpass and struck the westbound pickup. "The bridge was icy and the driver went out of control into oncoming traffic and the collision that resulted was fatal."
All four killed were in the car. The Sheriff’s Department is asking for help in identifying them. None of them owned the vehicle. The victims were Hispanic and between the ages of 20 and 35. Most, if not all, worked at Nebraska Beef in Omaha and were on their way to work when the accident occurred. They are believed to be from the Fremont area. Anyone with information is asked to call the sheriff’s tip line at 402-444-6000.
The driver of the pickup, 64-year-old Douglas Nowicki of Waterloo, was taken by medical helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center in fair condition.
That stretch of Highway 275 was closed for more than five hours. "If we sense that an intersection or a bridge is icy we have the ability to call either the state or county roads department and they always come out quickly and respond,” said Chief Deputy Bilek. “In this particular case sand trucks were out before this particular accident happened." A state road crew had treated the overpass with a liquid brine Thursday night into Friday.
A second crash happened Friday near Highway 275 and Blondo. Both scenes were close to where 48-year-old Tammy Harris of Valley was killed in a crash Thursday morning. Fog and icy road conditions were also factors in that accident.
Diana Bryant is familiar with the feeling of helplessness. On Thursday, she told Channel 6 News about her drive into work and her encounter with deceptively slick streets. "I could not stop so I just decided to make the turn, I was going too fast and I turned out onto 264th Street and I was jiggling all around and it was very scary."
"This is kind of a strange time of the year," said Chief Deputy Bilek. "You've got unseasonably warm temperatures and fog, humid conditions at sunrise, but the streets are still about freezing, 32 degrees."
There is a lot of moisture in the air and when you add in the below-freezing temperatures there will be trouble. Bridges and overpasses will freeze first because they are exposed underneath. The roadway freezes later because it has the ground to insulate it.