Lincoln’s ‘Worst crash in recent memory’ kills six

Six people died early Sunday morning in what Lincoln Police called “the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory.”

LPD spent the day near 56th and Randolph streets investigating what caused an eastbound Honda Accord to cross the center of the road and collide with a tree in the front yard of a home shortly after 1 p.m. 2 Sunday.

The driver, a 26-year-old man and four passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. Lincoln Fire & Rescue rescued a 24-year-old woman from the sedan. She was taken to hospital but died late Sunday morning.

“I’ve been in this department for 25 years and can’t remember anything this horrible,” LPD Assistant Chief Michen Morrow said.

Lincoln police were called to the accident at 02.16. The 26-year-old driver and four others – a 21-year-old man, two 22-year-old men and another 23-year-old man – were pronounced dead at the stage.

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At 8:30 a.m., a Lincoln towing service was working to remove the sedan on a flatbed truck while investigators remained on scene.

“There are no witnesses,” Morrow said.

The posted speed limit is 25 mph on Randolph Street.

The impact of the car hitting the tree in the front yard was loud enough to wake up Erin Bartak, who thought the vehicle might have hit their house. She alerted her father Brad and brother Bronson.

Brad Bartak went outside and noticed the airbags had deployed and saw people lying in the back seat.

He used a rock to smash the rear window, but the engine quickly caught fire. He used the garden hose to try to contain the fire while another neighbor arrived and tried to help until the fire department arrived.

“We’ve been in this house since 1971 and this is probably the worst crash we’ve ever had,” he said.

Morrow said the names of the victims will not be released until all families have been notified.

Sunday’s tragedy brings back memories of other fatal accidents involving young people in the area.

In April 2001, four people, three of them teenagers, were killed on Nebraska Highway 2 near 14th Street when the station wagon they were in crossed the median and was struck by a dump truck.

In June 2019, four Gretna High School girls were killed when their eastbound Ford Fusion ran off Platteview Road, struck the end of a guardrail and ended up in a ravine near the intersection of 180th Street, according to the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Department.

Regarding Sunday’s crash, LPD is asking anyone who may have witnessed it or who may have video from the area to contact them at 402-441-6000 or contact Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.

Journal Star reporter Damon Bennett contributed to this story.

Contact the author at 402-473-7391 or psangimino@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @psangimino

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