3 killed in I-80 crash near Greenwood were from Lincoln

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OMAHA, Neb. - Three people from Lincoln, all of which were under the age of 20, were killed in a crash on Interstate 80 near Greenwood on Sunday.

(Source: Lincoln High Yearbook) Erica Rafael Pascual (left) and Domingo Pascual Velasquez (right)

According to the Nebraska State Patrol, Domingo Pascual Velasquez, 19, of Lincoln, and Erica Rafael Pascual, 15, of Lincoln, were pronounced deceased at the scene. Heidy Diaz, 10, of Lincoln, was transported to the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, where she later passed away.

Velasquez and Rafael were students at Lincoln High, Diaz was a student at Hartley Elementary school.

At approximately 11:12 a.m., the Nebraska State Patrol received a report of a crash in the westbound lanes of I-80 at mile marker 422, near Greenwood. Four vehicles were involved in the crash.

Authorities say a 2003 Chevy TrailBlazer was traveling east on the interstate when it lost control on the snow-covered road and clipped a brown 2012 Mini Cooper.

The Mini Cooper spun out of control and ended up in the median, authorities said.

The TrailBlazer lost control and went into the westbound lanes of traffic, hitting a silver minivan head-on.

The three killed were all in the TrailBlazer, and police do not believe any of the individuals were restrained at the time of the crash.

A four-year-old passenger of the Trailblazer was also transported to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. The child has since been transferred to Children’s Hospital but remains in critical condition.

The driver, Carlos Bernabe Escobar, 29, and front-seat passenger, Carmelina Pascual Bernabe, 28, both of Lincoln, were transported to Bergan Mercy Hospital in Omaha with non-life-threatening conditions. Bernade Escobar and Pascual Bernabe are parents of the youngest two children. The two older children are their niece and nephew.

Five occupants of the Honda Odyssey, all from Minnesota, were transported to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.

Interstate 80 was closed for approximately five hours while rescue crews responded to and investigated the crash scene.

After a preliminary investigation, troopers believe that the occupants of the Trailblazer were not wearing seat belts. All occupants of the other vehicles were wearing seat belts. The investigation remains ongoing.

Lincoln High sent this email on Monday in response to the incident:

This morning we learned the sad news that two of the people who were killed in a car crash yesterday on I-80 are part of our Lincoln High family: Erica Rafael Pascual, was an 11th grade student and Domingo Pascual Velasquez, was a student at Lincoln High last year. Our hearts are with their family and friends during this difficult time.

The Lincoln Public Schools Crisis Team is at Lincoln High today to help provide support to students and staff. We encourage students who may be struggling with this news to reach out to one of the Crisis Team members or a trusted adult at home or school.

It can be a helpful part of the grieving process to commemorate the person who has died. The Crisis Team - as well as school administrators - are available to work with students to find positive and school-appropriate ways to express grief.

Information about funeral services will likely be available soon on funeral home websites or in the Lincoln Journal Star. We recommend that parents/caregivers attend services with their child in order to provide support.

Adolescents often experience a variety of responses to the death of a classmate. Some may show no emotion while others may experience intense emotions. Feelings about previous losses may also resurface at this time. We encourage you to take time to talk openly with your student about their thoughts and feelings. It is beneficial for your student to know that you are there to listen and comfort them.

Here is a link with information regarding helping teens cope with trauma and grief. Please do not hesitate to let us know if we can provide additional support.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the school.

Sincerely,
Mark Larson
Principal

Hartley Elementary also sent this email in response to the incident:

Hartley families,

We have received the sad news of the death of one of our fourth grade students, Heidy Diaz Pascual, who was killed in a car crash yesterday. This is very difficult for Heidy’s family and friends and we are thinking of them. We read the following message to Hartley students today:

We have some sad news to share with you. We learned this morning that Heidy Diaz Pascual, a 4th grade student here at Hartley, was killed in a car crash yesterday. This is very difficult for Heidy’s family and friends and we are thinking of them.

The Lincoln Public Schools Crisis Team is at Hartley today in Room 200 to help provide support to students and staff. If you or someone close to you is having a hard time with this news, we encourage you to talk to your teacher and then meet with a member of the Crisis Team for support.

The Lincoln Public Schools Crisis Team is at Hartley today to help provide support to students and staff. We encourage students who may be struggling with this news to reach out to one of the Crisis Team members or a trusted adult at home or school.

It can be a helpful part of the grieving process to commemorate the person who has died. The Crisis Team - as well as school administrators - are available to work with students to find positive and school-appropriate ways to express grief.

Information about funeral services will likely be available soon on funeral home websites or in the Lincoln Journal Star. We recommend that parents/caregivers attend services with their child in order to provide support.

For most elementary children, death is a new experience. Like all new experiences, the unknown can be confusing and frightening. Children will seek answers and comfort from their caregivers and other adults that they have a relationship with.

Children often experience a variety of responses after the death of classmate and we would expect them to react in ways that are different than older children or adults. Some may respond with little emotion and others may experience very strong emotions. It is also possible that a death of a classmate can trigger a child’s grief about a previous loss or disruption in their life.

We encourage you to listen to your child express their thoughts and feelings and to provide extra support to them. Below are two resources that may help you talk with your child about grief and death. Please contact your child’s classroom teacher with any questions or concerns.

https://childrengrieve.org/resources/10-ways-to-help-a-grieving-child
https://home.lps.org/socialworkers/files/2017/04/Helping-Children-with-Trauma-and-Grief-2.pdf

Sincerely,

Jeff Rust
Principal