Minneapolis Family of 5 Killed in Nebraska Crash

August 20, 2017 07:34 PM

Authorities have arrested the driver of a semitrailer that was involved in a fiery crash that killed five people in western Nebraska.

Fifty-three-year-old Tony Weekly is facing five counts of motor vehicle homicide.


The Nebraska State Patrol says the truck and several vehicles were involved in the collision that happened about 11:30 a.m. Mountain time Sunday near Brule. The patrol says the pileup began when the truck struck the mini-van with the Pals family in it on westbound Interstate 80. Three more vehicles soon were involved.  

The patrol says five people in the van died at the scene. Relatives identified them as Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their three children, Ezra, Violet and Calvin, aged, 4, 2 and 2 months. According to the pastor at Bethlehem Baptist Church, they were traveling to Colorado for missionary training.  

Rick Pals, Jamison's father, said, "Everywhere they went they touched lives."

Until they left for their training trip and eventually Japan, the couple and their kids had lived with Kathryne's parents in Wayzata. Preparing for their mission abroad, they sold everything they owned, created a blog and called their journey The Joy of Japan.  

Kathryne's parents, Gordy and Nancy Engel, said the family had just left a water park Sunday, when the crash happened.

"They didn't have to suffer and they all went together; they were a team as a family, you never want that to happen."

Six people in the other vehicles were taken to an Ogallala hospital and three of them later were flown to Colorado hospitals. According to the patrol, the driver of the 1994 Plymouth Voyager minivan, 56-year-old Terry Sullivan of Denver Colorado was among those flown to a Colorado hospital. The patrol announced Tuesday that Sullivan died at the hospital Monday afternoon.

Meanwhile two passengers in the SUV—33-year-old Paoloa Velez and 53-year-old Martiniana Velez of Eagle Pass, Texas—were also flown to Colorado.

The male driver of the SUV, along with the a male passenger in the Plymouth Voyager, were transported to the Ogallala Community hospital and were admitted in stable condition. The driver of the 2013 Ford van was treated and released, according to the patrol. The names of those three individuals have not yet been released.

Jamison and Kathryne met at the University of Northwestern in St. Paul. She played college volleyball and he studied the gospel for his life's work.  

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Pals extended family.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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