RED CLOUD — Today, the Nebraska State Patrol, in conjunction with the Webster County Attorney’s Office, released a statement saying that both drivers shared culpability in a fatal Sept. 5 crash.
The crash, involving a Blue Hill Community School District bus and a semi-truck and trailer, claimed the lives of four Webster County residents and injured five others.
After a thorough investigation and accident reconstruction by the Nebraska State Patrol, with assistance of the Webster County Sheriff’s office, it has been determined that each driver appears to have shared some level of responsibility in the outcome of the crash.
“The investigation indicated that both vehicles entered the intersection at approximately the same time,” said Sara Bockstadter, Webster County Attorney. “The investigation revealed that both drivers had an unobstructed view of the roadway and the opportunity to see each other.”
The crash occurred just before 5 p.m. Sept. 5, when the school bus and semi hauling hay, collided at the intersection of County Road “R” and 1800 Road, south of Blue Hill.
As a result of the impact, both vehicles caught fire. The fire destroyed data recording equipment in both vehicles, hampering the ability to determine the speed each vehicle was traveling. The driver of the semi did not have a Class A Commercial Driver’s License required to operate the vehicle he was driving. The driver of the bus failed to statutorily yield the right-of-way to the semi on her right. Both issues were identified as possible contributing factors in the crash. Drugs and alcohol were not involved in the crash.
“This has been an extremely difficult time for all of us,” Bockstadter said. “While we continue to grieve the loss of our family members and friends, we would like to thank everyone who has reached out to our community to provide comfort and support.”
The crash claimed the lives of Travis Witte, 21, of Blue Hill, Marla Wentworth, 59, of Red Cloud, and Dustin Tesdahl, 18, and Caroline Thallman, 10, both of Blue Hill. Five other students riding the bus were injured.