A south central Nebraska community is mourning the loss of a young life after a deadly accident.
Clay County Sheriff Jeff Franklin said Casie L. Gibbs of Clay Center was pronounced dead on scene after the 1998 Oldsmobile Intrigue the 18-year-old was driving collided with a pickup near Fairfield.
Officials said the accident occurred at the intersection of Highway 74 and Road O at 8:16 Friday night. They say Gibbs was going northbound on Road O and the pickup was going east on Highway 74. Friends said Gibbs and three friends had just left the football game at their school, Sandy Creek High.
"I was standing at the ball game and I saw the lights, hear the sirens. It was like not even a quarter of a mile from the football field," said Zach Stiner, who is classmates with the girls.
The Clay County Sheriff said jaws of life had to be used to remove both Gibbs and the front seat passenger. Friends identified that passenger as Victoria Kuykendall, and officials said she was airlifted to Bryan West in Lincoln, where she is in critical condition.
"It's going to touch a lot of people and I know there's going to be a lot of grief in the community now," said Blair Willard, who went to school with the girls.
Authorities said the other two passengers were treated at Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital in Hastings and then released. They say 50-year-old Kenneth Shuck of Edgar, who was driving the pickup, was also treated and released.
Word about Gibbs' death spread quickly via social media.
"It's not something you hear every day. But you know, God takes you for a reason," said Stiner.
Gibbs' father, Clark Gibbs, spoke to 10/11 News over the phone, describing his daughter as a great kid who was beautiful and the light of his life, a young lady who was friends with everyone.
"There's going to be a large impact on the community. Everybody usually knows everybody here. It's going to be tough to recover from it," said Jery Stromer of Fairfield, who has kids at Sandy Creek Public Schools.
"Graduation will be way different. There will be one less seat there," Stiner said.
Authorities said preliminary investigations show none of the five people involved were wearing seat belts. Franklin said Clay County Attorney Ted Griess has ordered an autopsy for Gibbs as well as a reconstruction of the accident. Franklin said that per state statue, blood tests will also be conducted on both drivers to determine if alcohol or drugs were involved.
Statement From Superintendent Dr. Randall Gilson
October 22, 2012
Four Sandy Creek students were involved in a car accident on Friday night. Casie Gibbs died as a result of the accident. Another student was transported to the hospital in Lincoln and continues to recover from injuries sustained in the accident.
The other two students were treated at Mary Lanning Hospital in Hastings and released.
Sandy Creek Public Schools is saddened by the news of this tragedy. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Casie Gibbs and also to the students and families of everyone involved in the accident.
The high school was open from 1 to 5:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. Counselors were available to help comfort and support students and staff. Rooms will be available with counselors throughout the week as well.
Casie Gibbs, was a senior at Sandy Creek. She moved into the district and began attending Sandy Creek her junior year. In the short time Casie attended Sandy Creek, she made a positive impact with students and teachers and will be missed.
Casie began blossoming in honor choir this year. She was especially excited about preparing to sing a solo at the upcoming Dinner Theater in November.
In the best interest of students, faculty, and the community, all school events will go on as planned. First round of conference volleyball games are scheduled at Sandy Creek tonight. The volleyball team plans to wear purple ribbons in their hair as a way to remember Casie.
Dr. Randall Gilson