UNL student killed in fatal crash on Hwy. 77 and Waverly Road

Published: Dec. 6, 2016 at 7:18 AM CST
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A UNL student is dead after a crash involving two semi-trucks. It happened around 6 a.m. near Highway 77 and Waverly Road.

The accident happened a few hundred yards from Paul Marcussen's home. He says he woke up to a loud boom. "It sounded like a bomb," said Marcussen.

When he got outside he says he saw a ball of fire.

Living in the area for nearly 40 years Paul says this isn't the first deadly accident he's seen in the area. He says the intersection needs a stoplight. Paul says he's even lost friends along this road just a few miles down.

He says he can't imagine what the young man's family is going through.

" Just so sad for such a young man, just starting life."

The UNL student's name was Brandon Gerdes. He was 21-years-old and died at the scene. The other driver is in critical condition, but is expected to live.


At approximately 6 a.m.Tuesday morning rescue crews responded to Hwy. 77 and Waverly Road on a report of an accident involving two semi-trailers.

According to witnesses, a truck hauling rock was proceeding westbound on Waverly Road crossing the four lanes of Hwy. 77 after stopping for the stop sign on the northeast corner of the intersection.

That is when it collided with the driver’s side of a grain truck that was traveling southbound on Hwy. 77.

The grain truck rolled onto its side and burst into flames upon impact.

The driver of the grain truck was pronounced dead at the scene.

The deceased driver of the grain truck has been identified by authorities as 21-year-old Brandon W. Gerdes, of Osmond.

According to University records, Gerdes was enrolled at University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Records show he was a junior in pursuit of an agronomy degree.

The injured driver of the westbound rock truck was 67-year-old Gary L. Jacobsen of Garland, NE.

Jacobsen was transported to an area hospital for his injuries and is in critical but stable condition.

Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the crash. It does not appear that seatbelts were in use by the rock truck driver.

The investigation is on-going.