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Fatality on I-80 PDF E-mail

One person died Thursday morning as the result of a head-on collision on Interstate 80 which left two vehicles engulfed in flames.
The Nebraska State Patrol reported that a pickup with California license plates heading east about 8:40 a.m. near the 321 milemarker between Phillips and Giltner veered off the interstate, through the median and into the westbound lanes. The vehicle collided with a semi-trailer driven by Joseph Donlan of Wildwood, Ga., at which point both vehicles came to rest just off the road in the north ditch.

Hamilton County Coroner Mike Powell confirmed that the driver of the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene, though the victim’s name is not being released pending notification of relatives.
State Patrol officials reported that a couple from Iowa witnessed the entire accident, and also helped the driver of the semi get out of the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames.
Giltner firefighters were first on the scene and began attacking fires in both vehicles.
“When we got there both vehicles were engulfed in flames,” said Giltner Fire Chief Brad Consbruck. “Aurora comes automatically on motor-vehicle accidents so we had them bring tankers, and then once we saw that the trailer was loaded with cardboard boxes we called Phillips in for more water and manpower.”
Aurora firefighters arrived a few minutes later and went to work on a fire that had begun to spread from the semi’s cab back into the trailer.
“We had to break them (cardboard boxes) up in order to get them extinguished,” Aurora Fire Chief Tom Cox said. “We have a metal-cutting circular saw we use for extraction and we used that to cut holes in the side of the trailer in an attempt to get behind the fire. It was kind of a long, drawn-out fight.”
Firefighters also extinguished a fire which covered about 100 yards of grass in the north ditch.
Traffic in the west-bound lanes was diverted to Highway 34 for approximately 90 minutes. Firefighters left the scene at approximately 11 a.m., though the Giltner crew was called back to put out smoldering cardboard boxes which had re-ignited.

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