A horrific car crash that killed four teenage girls and critically injured a fifth plunged the community of Gretna, Nebraska, into a state of shock and grief as investigators search for clues about what happened.
“For some unknown reason, the vehicle left the roadway, struck the end of a guardrail, and ended up in a ravine. The vehicle caught fire and was fully engulfed when deputies arrived,” Captain Chris Culler of the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a statement, according to People.
The June 17 crash claimed the lives of Alex Minardi, 15; Addisyn Pfeifer, 16; Kloe Odermatt, 16; and Abby Barth, 16, who was driving the vehicle. All were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The fifth passenger, 15-year-old Roan Brandon, is in the hospital undergoing surgeries and treatments for a broken clavicle and burn injuries.
Investigators say that the investigation is still in its early stages and no determination has been made as to the causes, but they believe speed could have been a factor, according to Omaha, Nebraska’s WOWT Channel 6 News. There were no other vehicles involved in the crash.
The crash occurred near the intersection of Platteview Rd. and S 180th St., in a rural area dominated by corn and soybean farms. The posted speed limit along Platteview Rd. is 55 mph.
“We certainly owe it to the families to get to the bottom of what happened, and we’re going to do that,” Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis, according to WOWT. “Not only for their sake, but also to see if there’s anything we can do to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again.”
He said 25 first responders, tow truck drivers, and personnel from the Sheriff’s Office have spent “hours and hours” at the scene studying the vehicle, the road, and other factors to try to figure out what happened.
Friends and classmates say the four girls were inseparable. “They did everything together … and I’m sure that’s how they are now,” one friend told WOWT.
The parents of Roan, the lone survivor, said she is “a fighter and an incredibly lucky girl.” They said the four girls all brought “love, light, and laughter” to Roan’s world, and that she now has “four angels pushing her forward.” They said her biggest challenge to overcome was learning about the deaths of her four close friends, according to the Omaha World-Herald.