PAPILLION — Authorities have released the names of four Gretna High School students killed and a fifth critically injured in a fiery crash Monday night.
Alexandria Minardi, 15, and 16-year-olds Abigail Barth, Kloe Odermatt and Addisyn Pfeifer died in the crash. Roan Brandon, 15, is recovering from burns at a Lincoln hospital.
Sarpy County Sheriff Jeff Davis said the victims weren’t positively identified until late Wednesday. Speed is believed to have played a role in the crash, he added, but investigators are looking into other possible factors.
“We turn over every stone to see what happens,” he said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
Davis said investigators don't know where the girls had been or where they were headed.
In the days since the crash, Gretna Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Riley said his community has been in mourning. He said his school lost “good girls, smart girls” with bright futures.
He described them as best friends.
The outpouring of support has extended far beyond the Sarpy County suburb, with student-athletes across the Omaha metro area wearing green — one of the school’s primary colors — in a show of solidarity.
“Our collective heart in our community is shattered,” Riley said. “We ache for the families.”
The crash occurred shortly after 11 p.m. Monday. A eastbound Ford Fusion, owned by Barth’s family, ran off Platteview Road, a well-traveled route crossing southern Sarpy County. The car struck the end of a guardrail and ended up in a ravine near a creek just west of 180th Street.
The car was in flames when deputies arrived. Davis said Thursday the initial 911 call came roughly 10 minutes after the crash and that the passerby believed it was a brush fire.
Authorities stayed on the scene 3 miles east of Nebraska Crossing Outlets well into Tuesday morning.
Barth, Minardi, Odermatt and Pfeifer were pronounced dead at the scene. Brandon was transported to CHI St. Elizabeth in Lincoln for treatment of burns.
On the guardrail, loved ones had created a memorial that kept growing throughout the day Thursday. However, Davis cautioned friends and families of the crash victims from congregating in an area that’s “absolutely not safe” for people to walk along the busy two-lane road.
Temporary barricades have been placed near the scene to warn motorists to slow down, he said, and the memorial will be moved to a safer location farther from the guardrail.