FREMONT, Neb. — For years, local teenagers have turned to Old Highway 8 to blow the dust off their tires.
Jackson Blick had a beauty — a 1966 Ford Mustang, a classic two-door coupe with bucket seats. It was a gift from his grandfather for his 16th birthday.
With Jackson at the wheel, three friends piled into the car Monday night for a spin that turned deadly and left this community grieving the loss of three young men.
Jackson was most likely speeding at about 10 p.m., authorities said, when he lost control of the Mustang and rolled the car on Old Highway 8 about a mile southeast of Fremont.
Jackson and Tyler Walling died at the scene. Trey Hansen died Tuesday night at Creighton University Medical Center. Jake Burnside remained in critical condition at Creighton.
“Our faith is what's holding us together,” said Shirley Blick, Jackson's paternal grandmother. “When the storms come, like this accident, our faith is the foundation that gets us through these things. Jackson's faith was very strong.”
None of the boys, all 16 and students at Fremont High School, was wearing a seat belt.
One was ejected in the rollover, Dodge County Sheriff Steve Hespen said. Alcohol was not a factor in the accident, he added.
Trey Hansen's family donated his organs, said his father, Todd Hansen.
“We made a decision as a family that Trey had the opportunity to help other people who are suffering,'' Hansen said.
Despite the tremendous pain the family is going through, he said, he can't help but think about the other families and Jake Burnside.
“In our hearts, we are deeply sorry for the other families, and they are in our thoughts and prayers,” Todd Hansen said. “Our hearts ache for them.”
Shirley and Richard Blick said their oldest grandson had been driving the Mustang since his birthday in April. His maternal grandfather, Lyle Nelson, a collector of classic cars, gave it to Jackson, they said.
“Jackson drove it to school and around town,” Shirley Blick said. “We don't know where they were going last night.”
At the time of the crash, she said, two other carloads of teens were nearby. All were headed in the same direction.
The four boys were good friends and good students who had finished their sophomore year of high school less than two weeks ago, according to family and friends.
The boys were all involved in high school sports and activities, and family members said they were excellent students.
Shirley Blick described her grandson as a loving, joyful teen who got good grades and enjoyed all sports. He played basketball, baseball and football but really excelled as a runner, she said.
“He was also a very good musician,” the grandmother said. “Jackson played in church and with the school (concert) band.”
Jackson played drums in the band at Grace Presbyterian Church, where his father, Eric Blick, is a worship team leader. His mother, Jodi, plays piano, and his 14-year-old sister, Justine, sings.
The Hansens are also holding onto their faith. Todd Hansen said Trey was well-liked and close to his twin brother, Ty. He also leaves a sister, Hope, 11.
One of Trey's goals was to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. He wanted to be a doctor in the military, his father said. Trey was smart and enjoyed participating in student government and football.
“Trey had a great spirit about him, and he was going to do great things when he got older,” Todd Hansen said.
The family and friends of Tyler Walling described him as a high achiever in academics and sports. In December, Tyler became an Eagle Scout, said his father, Wesley Walling. His siblings were Blake, 18, Andrew, 13, and Whitney, 8. Tyler also played basketball and tennis and was a trapshooter. Wesley Walling said the boys in the accident were all close, but his son and Jake Burnside, a former football player, had known each other since they were tots.
His aunt, Brandie Schoeneck of Arlington, Neb., said Tyler was a fun kid to be around. Her most recent memory was when Tyler showed up at his grandparents' house recently to help clean up the yard after recent thunderstorms. Kevin Eairleywine, a spokesman for the Fremont Public Schools, said crisis team members would be available today in the school's media center. Students and their parents were coming and going Tuesday morning from the high school. Faculty members were stationed at the school's doors and said they couldn't comment. “This has impacted the entire 2015 class. It will impact the community,” one Facebook posting read.
World-Herald staff writer Lizzie Johnson contributed to this report.
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Multiple youth fatalities
Oct. 26, 2008: Tyler Eggert and Dillon Synovec, both 15, of Murdock and Angelica Washington, 17, of Elmwood die when the car that Tyler was driving went out of control and turned into the path of a truck.
December 28, 2006: Jacob Hurd and Kyle Lavigne, both 17, are killed in a single-car crash in Gretna and a third person is injured. Authorities determined that alcohol and excessive speed were factors in the crash.
Oct. 18, 2006: Kyle Clark and Nathan Worley, 16, die in a single vehicle crash. Clark lost control of the car, veered into a ditch, hit an embankment and rolled less than two miles outside Wahoo.
October 8, 2005: Cory Rolofson, 14, and Jessica Henzel, 13, are killed on a remote dirt road in Greenwood, Neb. The car left the road, flipped over and immediately caught fire. Jessica was enrolled as an eighth-grade student at Morton Middle School in Omaha and Cory attended eighth grade at Waverly Middle School.
May 9, 2004: Joseph Fitzgerald, 16, was driving 90 mph when he crashes a Toyota Solara into a bank of trees on 72nd Street north of Omaha. The crash killed passengers Brian Brooks, 14, of Omaha, and Bryan Riggs, 15, and KJ Robinson, 17, of Fort Calhoun. A fourth boy was injured.
December 2, 1999: Rose Murray, 17, Miranda Kirkpatrick, 16, and Kelly Cox, 15, all of Westboro, Mo., are killed seven miles south of Shenandoah, Iowa, when their car moves into the oncoming lane to pass another car and collides head-on.
March 1, 1998: Scott Baxter, 17, and Jeremy Coker, 16, die at the intersection of 156th and State Streets. A second passenger, Matthew Kress, 17, dies March 2, 1998, after being critically injured in the accident. Investigators said Baxter, the driver, failed to stop at a stop sign.
April 1, 1994: Three Burke High School students, Matthew Guilfoyle, 16, Jaydn Lombardi, 16, and Janelle Papillon, 17, are killed and driver Kristen Decker, 17, is injured in a one-car accident on State Street west of 168th Street. Authorities suspect that drinking and high-speed driving were factors in the accident.
February 10, 1994: A one-car accident in Nebraska City kills two Nebraska City Senior High students and injures two others. Adam Hobbie, 15, and Damon Wolfe, 17, were killed. The car went out of control while passing another vehicle and slammed into concrete steps leading to the front porch of a nearby house.
January 8, 1993: Two teenagers, Terrell Zollicoffer, 18, of Omaha and Cori Horrocks, 17, of Bellevue die and two are injured in a crash near 60th Street and Fontenelle Boulevard. The car struck a tree after the driver lost control.
July 18, 1991: Robert “Rob” M. Miller, 18, and Rebecca Bergman, 16, are killed and Jim Kragelund, 19, is seriously injured in a two-car collision at 156th and Blondo Streets.
May 16, 1987: Five Dodge High School students die in a four-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 30 west of Fremont. Klay Armstrong, 17, and Mike Blankenau, Paul Brochtrup, John Maresh, all 16, and Scott Mandel, 15, are killed on their way home from a drive-in movie in Fremont.
August 24, 1986: Two cousins, Jason Thune, 14, and Ryan W. Patzlaff, 12, of Alexandria, S.D., were killed in a two-vehicle collision southwest of Omaha. Thune had taken a family car without permission and picked up four other youths to go joyriding. Thune apparently drowned after being trapped in the vehicle. Four other youths in the car were injured. None of the youths was old enough to have a driver's license.
May 20, 1986: Thomas Brown, 18, and Daniel Benak, 17, are killed just hours after graduating from Omaha Creighton Prep when their car is struck at 72nd and Maple Streets by another car whose driver allegedly was drunk and fleeing police.