Six people were killed and five people injured on Interstate 80 near Brule, Nebraska, on August 1 after an apparently distracted semi-truck driver allegedly slammed into a minivan carrying a family of five. That resulted in a chain reaction of collisions with another three vehicles.
The truck driver, Tony Weekly, Jr., was driving for Indiana-based Bohren Logistics Inc. at the time of the late-morning accident. The 53-year-old Baker, FL, resident suffered minor injuries in the accident and was arrested by Nebraska State Patrol after having been treated at a Colorado hospital.
Weekly was charged with felony motor vehicle homicide, with the original arrest report indicating five counts. In addition, he was cited for reckless driving, a misdemeanor, and held on $1 million bail. In order be released, Weekly would have to put up $100,000, which appears to be highly unlikely after he told the presiding judge about his dwindling personal finances.
The St. Paul, MN, family killed in the accident were the three small children of Jamison and Kathryne Pals, who also died. The family was enroute to Colorado in order to begin preparations to serve in Japan as religious missionaries beginning in October.
The sixth person who died, 56-year-old Terry Sullivan, passed away a few days after the accident. Sullivan’s minivan was struck by the Jamison minivan after it had allegedly been hit by Weekly’s truck. His death could potentially amend the number of felony counts to six.
Each of the vehicles was traveling west on the interstate at the time of the accident, with some witnesses indicating that Weekly only slowed up after his truck hit the Pals’ vehicle. The temporary speed limit of the construction zone at the time of the accident was 65 per hour, 10 below the usual speed.
The accident was considered to be the worst crash in the state in nearly nine years. In that instance, a collision in which two cars struck each other head-on resulted in the deaths of five people. The most deaths in state history for a vehicle collision took place in 1976 and killed 11 individuals.