CUSTER COUNTY—In just one week—in the middle of April–residents in Central Nebraska experienced earthquakes, sunshine and 8o degrees, and then blizzard conditions. Friday the thirteenth did not disappoint with weekend snow accumulations ranging from four to five inches in Custer County, according to the National Weather Service in North Platte, with heavy drifting. One report from the Broken Bow airport indicated a 66 mph wind gust at 4:14 a.m. on Saturday (April 14).
Nearly 100 downed power poles and transmission damage left hundreds of people without power according to Custer Public Power, who reported that one third of its system was down by Saturday morning due to the Friday afternoon winds and ice.
Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) rescued more than 100 motorists across western Nebraska. Interstate 80 was closed to westbound traffic from Grand Island to the Wyoming state line, and eastbound from the state line to Ogallala. The NSP also confirmed one fatality accident. The fatality was a result of a crash involving two semis in the median of I-80 near mile marker 84. Rollo Ward, 61, of Idaho Falls, ID, was pronounced deceased at the scene after the semi he was driving eastbound lost control, entered the median, and struck a semi that had previously become stranded. (Courtesy NSP.)
According to the Logan County Sheriff’s Office, a two-vehicle head-on collision occurred just after 6:30 p.m. on Friday night. The accident occurred on Highway 92 near mile marker 246 about two miles west of Arnold. Sheriff Sean Carson told KCNI/KBBN that three people were transported to the Callaway District Hospital by Arnold Rescue crews.
Sheriff Carson reported that a westbound SUV driven by Austin Starr of the Stapleton/Arnold area crossed the center line and collided with an eastbound Dodge Journey SUV driven by Frank Hauser of Arnold. Sue Hauser was in the passenger seat and was released from the hospital on Saturday. Both men were released on Friday, all three suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to Sheriff Carson who reported the accident was likely caused due to the high winds and icy roads.
Due to the high winds, a semi-trailer flipped three miles west of the Logan County line on Highway 92 on Friday evening after 6 p.m. According to Custer County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) records, the semi with trailer had jack-knifed in the north side ditch while heading west. The driver and passenger were “okay” according to records.
CCSO records also reported a single vehicle accident on Paulsen Road near the intersection of Road 800. A Custer Public Power work truck was reported in the west side ditch lying on its passenger side. Driver Jonathon H. Berghorst, 28, and passenger Alex J. Meeks, 23, refused EMS service after their vehicle overturned due to the snowy and windy conditions in an attempt to turn around.
Sheriff Dan Osmond reported nearly 10 motorist assist calls throughout Custer County and reminds everyone to stay home and not get complacent during winter storms.
In addition, at approximately 11:40 p.m. on Sunday, a 2.6 magnitude earthquake was reported 20 miles East South East of Stapleton, according to the United States Geological Survey.