Fatal Accidents on the Rise in Nebraska


As a death was mourned Tuesday, another life was lost, putting Nebraska roadways on their way to setting a record no one wants.

"A couple of young men were killed at a stop sign and it's an easy stop sign," explained Trooper Andy Allen, "you had to have just looked away for a second, and a semi hit them and they're fatalities now."

"That just doesn't make sense," he finished.

For Trooper Allen, trying to make sense out of roadway deaths is difficult, but making sense of record roadway deaths is almost impossible.

"You think you try and do the same things each year, try to do the same activities, monitor the same areas," he said. "We work to counteract possibilities of fatalities and the control of that is difficult."

With AJ Sabin's death on Thanksgiving and Stephanie Wrick on Tuesday morning, 2012 is proving deadly.

"It's certainly much higher than where we were a year ago, right now we're at 25 fatalities more than we were at this time last year," said Fred Zwonechek of the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety.

There were 181 in all of 2011, 2012 has hit 189 roadway fatalities and we still have a month to go. "You think if it had been a second later, everyone would still be alive and it doesn't work like that," said Allen.

It especially doesn't work that way, they say, when alcohol is involved.

"Our alcohol involvement is higher on a percentage basis than any year in the last six years," said Zwonechek. "That's a little disturbing to us."

Although alcohol wasn't a factor in Wrick's fatal crash Tuesday morning, like it was in Sabin's death, both accidents do share a lethal commonality.

"Three-quarters of our fatalities occur on rural roads," said Zwonechek. "Especially in the summer with the corn, visibility at an intersection is minimal to none and still everybody thinks there's not going to be anyone," said Allen.

It's that line of thinking, said Allen that instantly makes him go to Blue Hill.

"After several years in patrol, you kind of get hardened to adults getting killed, but kids," he repeated, "kids are always a killer."

Although officials say there's no one reason for the excessive number of deaths this year, they do blame the dry conditions for excessive speeding.

They said there hasn't been enough inclement weather to slow down drivers. That being said, with winter just around the corner, many are worried the fatality numbers may continue to worsen before they get better.