Many Nebraskans are coming together to honor a late Schuyler woman and her four children.
Maria Cristina Menjivar, her three sons and unborn daughter, were all killed in a three-vehicle accident on Saturday night near Fremont, according to the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office.
About 5:40 p.m. Saturday, a 2002 Ford Mustang driven by 16-year-old Jack Ford, of Fremont, was stopped in the eastbound lane on Highway 30 attempting to make a left turn into the Westlake Mobile Home Park, according to a sheriff's office press release. While stopped, Ford's vehicle was hit from behind by a 2002 Dodge Ram driven by 33-year-old German Lopez Saenz, also of Fremont.
The collision sent the pickup into the westbound traffic lane, where it collided head on with a 2001 Ford Taurus driven by the 32-year-old Schuyler woman. Menjivar and her three children, 10-year-old Julian, 8-year-old Adrian and 7-year-old Angel, were all pronounced dead at the scene. Menjivar was also pregnant with her fourth child, according to a GoFundMe that was set up to help the family pay for funeral costs.
Menjivar was not wearing a seat belt, according to the sheriff's office. The three children were all in the back seat, and two were wearing seat belts.
Saenz, who was wearing a seat belt, was transported to Methodist Fremont Health and later transferred to Nebraska Medicine for his injuries, according to the sheriff's office.
Ford and his two male passengers, ages 16 and 17, were also transported to Methodist Fremont Health.
Dodge County Sheriff Steve Hespen told The Fremont Tribune, a sister paper of the Schuyler Sun, that the investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.
“Reconstruction takes several days,” he said. “There are also some interviews we will do with some witnesses and then we’ll piece it all together.”
Alcohol is not believed to be a factor in the accident.
In the days following the accident, the GoFundMe page (https://bit.ly/2HQi5Qt) had garnered a lot of support. As of the Schuyler Sun’s print deadline on Tuesday, more than $21,500 of a $50,000 goal had been raised.
“I'm setting this up to help the family because at this time they are at a loss for words dealing with the loss of five family members,” Menjivar’s friend, Joycelyn Perez, wrote on the page. “Maria was always such a positive, loving and hardworking mom. She did anything and everything to make sure her boys had all they needed and was always there for them. Her boys were three sweet little boys ages 7, 8 and 10. She was also pregnant with her first baby girl due next month.”
Menjivar graduated from Schuyler Central High School in 2004 and worked as a safety coordinator at Henningsen Foods in David City. Her three sons attended Schuyler Elementary School, according to the family’s obituary.
Memorials can be directed to the Menjivar Family at any area Pinnacle Bank location, the obituary states.