Smoke from a controlled burn south of Beatrice apparently obscured visibility and caused two accidents south of town Monday afternoon.
The crashes happened near the intersection of U.S. Highway 77 and Oak Road.
Gage County Sheriff Millard Gustafson says a total of four vehicles were involved in the collisions — a car, an SUV, a semi-trailer truck and another truck.
The sheriff says smoke from the burn caused white-out conditions for all travel on the highway for “several feet.”
One of the people involved in one of the collisions was airlifted by helicopter to a Lincoln hospital, but injuries were not believed to be life-threatening.
The sheriff says investigators examined what first was believed to be one chain-reaction accident. He says it ended up being determined it was two separate crashes.
Gustafson says the a north wind pushed smoke toward U.S. Highway 77 from the controlled burn, west of the road.
He says the conditions due to the smoke were “treacherous” at times, depending on the wind.
The identities of those involved in the accident are not yet available.
By Doug Kennedy, KWBE, Beatrice