A 20-year-old Imperial man, a 22-year-old from Colorado, and a 73-year-old from Tennessee have been identified as the victims of that fiery, multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 80 in south-central Nebraska last Friday.
The Nebraska State Patrol released their identities. The victims were burned so badly, it took autopsies to identify them.
Dead are Tanner Allen of Imperial, Christopher Bieber of Holyoke, Colorado, and Donald Cox of Columbia, Tennessee.
The Nebraska State Patrol reports the crash began late afternoon on September 23rd, near the Gibbon exit when an eastbound semi tractor-trailer blew a tire as a pick-up was passing it. The semi, driven by Cox, struck the pick-up, forcing both vehicles through the median into the westbound lanes of I-80. The semi clipped the rear of a westbound semi, then struck a second pick-up driven by Allen. The impact sent the second pick-up into the ditch. It burst into flames. The semi rolled onto its side and caught fire.
Bieber was a passenger in Allen’s pick-up.
The first pick-up came to rest in the westbound driving lane. The second semi continued on, stopping at the Gibbon exit.
The driver of the second pick-up, 60-year-old Terry Purcell of Carter Lake, Iowa, and a passenger, 55-year-old Lisa Purcell of Carter Lake, Iowa, were taken to CHI Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney by ambulance with non-life threatening injuries.
The driver of the second semi was not injured.
The crash shut down portions of I-80 for more than four hours.
“This was a horrific accident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of everyone involved,” Captain Chris Kolb, Commander Troop C- Grand Island, said in a written statement. “We want to thank our law enforcement, fire and rescue partners for their assistance.”