A 37-year-old Schuyler man is being remembered after he was one of three people killed in a crash Friday afternoon on Interstate 80, an incident that remains under investigation by the Nebraska State Patrol.
The crash occurred about 3 p.m. Friday, near Gibbon, at mile marker 284 on I-80. Traffic had slowed as it was entering a construction zone on eastbound I-80. A semi-tractor/truck trailer then failed to slow down and struck the traffic from the rear.
The initial collision caused a chain reaction, involving seven vehicles. The first vehicle struck by the semi was a Chevrolet Silverado, driven by Vanicek, 37, of Schuyler, with passenger Daniel Seelhoff, 50, of Lincoln. Seelhoff was pronounced deceased on the scene. Vanicek was life-flighted to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, where he was later pronounced deceased.
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The driver of another vehicle, a Chevrolet Equinox, was also killed in the crash. Scott Gaylord, 54, of Lincoln, was transported to Good Samaritan Hospital in Kearney, where he was pronounced deceased. Three other people sustained injuries in the crash, but none were considered to be life threatening.
The driver of the semi, Kenneth Kratt, 34, of Madera, California, was not seriously injured in the crash. The crash investigation is ongoing. Charges related to the crash would be filed by the Buffalo County Attorney.
Interstate 80 was closed for eastbound traffic for approximately seven hours. Westbound lanes were closed for approximately one hour.
Vanicek lived in Schuyler his entire life and worked for Central Sand and Gravel in Columbus since graduating from Schuyler Central High School. He loved working around the house and yard and followed youth wrestling and all the children's activities, according to his obituary. He was a member of Divine Mercy Parish-St. Mary's Catholic Church in Schuyler.
Ryan is survived by his wife, Jessica of Schuyler; four children: Tamara Witzel, Nolen, Rylen and Rylee Vanicek; parents, Karen Vanicek and Mel Kucera of Columbus, Tom and Cindy Vanicek of Schuyler; one brother, Brad Vanicek and Ashley Weber of Columbus; mother-in-law, Janet Witzel of Schuyler; father-in-law, Chuck Witzel of Norfolk; nephew, Trenton Vanicek and niece, Brooklyn Vanicek.