Fremont remembers teens who died, were injured in crash

By Chris Zavadil/Fremont Tribune | Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2013 5:17 pm

A numbness settled over many Fremont residents Tuesday.

Prayers were many but words were hard to come by as the community reacted to a devastating crash that claimed the lives of three teenagers and left another critically injured.

Dodge County authorities said Jackson Blick and Tyler Walling, both 16, were pronounced dead at the scene of the accident on Monday night. Sixteen-year-old Trey Hansen died later from his injuries.

Another 16-year-old, Jake Burnside, was flown from the scene by a medical helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center. The only official report available, which came from a Fremont Public Schools note to parents, listed Burnside in critical condition on Monday morning.

As a group, friends spoke of them as outgoing, easygoing boys who were at home in the athletic arena, on the honor roll, in church, or in front of crowds. All four had recently completed their sophomore year at Fremont High School.

“They are a wonderful group of boys and our team here is heartbroken,” said Joy Jensen, director of children’s and family ministries at The Presbyterian Church, who heard the news while on a mission trip to Chicago with a youth group.

Jennifer Mitzelfelt, student ministry coordinator at Fremont First United Methodist Church, has known Burnside and Walling as active members of her church’s youth group.

“They’re good kids,” she said. “They’re incredibly friendly and outgoing and they were very active at church and very focused on their goals.”

“They both went on mission trips last summer and were planning on going on our mission trip this summer,” Mitzelfelt said.

Last year’s trip was a trek across Nebraska where the group did volunteer work in six different communities over four days.

“Our church is in prayer with the families of everybody involved,” Mitzelfelt said. “It’s a tragedy and we’re saddened by it, but we’re coming together and we’re lifting them up in prayers best as we can.”

School officials were notified of the crash before midnight, and by Tuesday morning FHS had crisis team members available in the high school media center. Counselors were expected to be on hand again today.

“Fremont Public Schools and the Fremont community are dealing with the tragic events of a car accident last night that took the lives of some Fremont High School students and injured others,” said Kevin Eairleywine, executive director of human resources and administrative operations at Fremont Public Schools.

“These four boys were heavily involved in activities in our school system, contributors to our community, and we want to respect the parents, the families, their friends, teachers and provide as much support as we can in this very difficult time,” Eairleywine said.

All four teens have been involved in numerous sports and other school organizations, as well as church youth groups and community organizations.

Blick, a drummer, was in Student Council, Key Club and choir.

Walling was an Eagle Scout who loved trap shooting and worked with children at the Fremont Family YMCA.

Hansen, a lifeguard, was involved in student government, choir and Key Club.

Burnside is a Student Council member who sells concessions at Splash Station.

Walling, Burnside and Hansen wore mascot-like costumes during the school year, travelling to different schools to entertain crowds during athletic events.

Dodge County Sheriff Steve Hespen said Blick was driving a 1966 Ford Mustang when the eastbound vehicle rolled on Old Highway 8 west of U.S. Highway 275. Hespen said speed was believed to be a factor in the accident. None of the boys was wearing seat belts and one of them was ejected from the vehicle.

Authorities responded to the accident at 9:51 p.m. and pronounced Blick and Walling dead on the scene.

Hansen initially was taken by ambulance to Fremont Area Medical Center, and then flown by medical helicopter to Creighton University Medical Center.

"At approximately 4 p.m. Tuesday, Trey was declared brain dead," said Sheila O'Connor, a friend of the Hansen family who was asked to speak on their behalf. "His family has made the decision for Trey to become an organ donor. While deeply saddened, they have decided this is a great legacy to honor Trey's life. The family acknowledges and appreciates everyone's support."

It was a day of prayer and waiting for updates on Hansen’s and Burnside’s conditions.

The Fremont Tribune’s Facebook page was filled with offers of prayers.

“Our prayers to the families, those who have lost their child and to those who are injured. It is so heart breaking to not only the families, but the school, friends and our community, it touches all. May you be strong and find some peace in the days to come,” wrote Charlotte Branzovsky.

“A tragedy,” Sheila Jo Meader wrote. “Sad for the families dealing with the aftermath. My thoughts and prayers for them.”

“I didn’t know them,” wrote Mariadelfino Renteria DeLuna, “but my prayers to the families. It’s so sad, I have a 16-year-old girl and I just can’t imagine.”