Cass County said good-bye to one of its young leaders, 13-year-old Nathan Alan Houfek, whose memorial services were July 24 in Bellevue.
The son of Jason and Kelley Houfek of Beaver Lake, Nathan was the victim of a multi-vehicle accident that happened at 5 p.m. July 19 on Highway 75 north of Church Road.
Nathan was the second person to be killed in the last week on the portion of Highway 75 in Cass County.
Nathan was known for his leadership skills and good-nature. He was a Boy Scout in Murray Troop 471 and enjoyed many outdoor activities.
According to a press release from the sheriff’s office, a semi truck driven by Kevin Monahan, 60, of Cass County was traveling north when it struck a Buick Park Avenue, driven by Phyllis Durand, 66, of Plattsmouth. The Durand vehicle traveled into the east ditch, while the semi truck struck a Ford Fusion driven by Kelley Houfek, 42, of Cass County. Houfek’s vehicle was pushed into a Mazda van driven by Joleen Rose, 41, of Cass County. The Rose vehicle was propelled to the west ditch.
Durand and Nathan were flown by medical helicopter to University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, along with two children who also were involved in the accident.
Nathan was pronounced dead at the hospital. All other parties are reported in stable condition. Monahan refused treatment at the scene and was released by the rescue personnel.
Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies along with Nebraska State Patrol, Murray Fire and Rescue, Plattsmouth Fire and Rescue and Plattsmouth Fire Department responded to the accident.
Upon arrival at the scene, responders found the accident scene spread out over nearly 1,000 feet, according to Plattsmouth Fire Chief Mike Wilson.
“Law enforcement immediately advised that extrication would be needed and that at least one Life Net helicopter would need to be dispatched,” Wilson explained.
The accident scene was divided into two parts with Murray Fire and Rescue working with the southern vehicle and Plattsmouth Fire Department on the north vehicles.
“After evaluating all involved parties, a request for a third and eventually a fourth helicopter as well as a squad and engine from Bellevue Fire was made by command,” Wilson said.
Rescuers used three sets of extrication equipment to reach four patients in the two vehicles. All four were flown to the hospital with a fifth patient taken by a land vehicle within 35 minutes of the call.
Despite all efforts, Nathan died at the hospital, difficult news for all.
Highway 75 was shut down until about 1 a.m. as the accident scene was investigated. Wilson thanks everyone for their words of comfort regarding the accident, including Plattsmouth Councilman Steve Riese and Plattsmouth City Administrator Erv Portis. Wilson extended a special thanks to EMS Director Mike Wood for his help.
“This call did not have the outcome anyone wanted,” Wilson writes on the department’s Facebook page. “…..Please keep the families of all involved in your thoughts and prayers.”
Construction crews have been working on widening Highway 75 since 2011, and road repairs have been ongoing the last few weeks.
According to Cass County Sheriff William Brueggemann, the vehicles involved in this crash were stopped for the construction in the northbound lane near Church Road. Monahan did not see that the vehicles were stopped.
The accident remains under investigation.