Community Mourns After Fatal Head-On Collision

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An entire community is in mourning after a crash near Elmwood, Nebraska involving a pickup and an ambulance from Weeping Water claimed two lives Tuesday night.

Fifty-one-year-old Bob Hanes was killed while he was driving the town's ambulance on a run to Lincoln. "Everybody's in shock,” said friend Mike Keckler. “It's such a small community, he's family to everybody. Him and his wife helped raise my daughter, so I've known him for years. I don't have an ill word to say about him. He's just that kind of guy.

The ambulance and pickup collided head-on along Highway 34 around 10:20 p.m. Both Hanes and the driver of the pickup, 24-year-old William Whitlatch of rural Syracuse, Nebraska, were killed.

An investigator was back at the scene Wednesday to take pictures in daylight. The Cass County Sheriff's Department says the pickup crossed the center line. Investigators say there were reports of the pickup moving erratically before the accident occurred.

Hanes’ son and daughter are part of the Weeping Water Volunteer Fire Department. His daughter, 30-year-old Melissa Hanes, was in the back of the ambulance with a patient and another EMT, 46-year-old James Flint, when the crash occurred. She in in fair condition at a Lincoln hospital, Flint is in serious condition.

“It's been tough,” said Bryce Bantz with Weeping Water Fire and Rescue. “He was a very good guy. Everybody knew him, respected him.”

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