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A senior at Lakeview High School on Tuesday died as the result of a car accident, according to the Platte County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office and the Columbus Fire Department responded around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning to a single-vehicle accident occurring about a quarter-mile east of East 29th Avenue along East 38th Street. The driver, Juan D. Cordero, 19, of rural Columbus, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the sheriff's office.

Cordero had been driving his 2007 Dodge Ram pickup eastbound on East 38th Street when the pickup exited the roadway and entered the north ditch, the sheriff's office said through a news release. The vehicle then rolled, coming to rest on its top.

Lakeview High School Principal Steve Borer issued a statement to The Columbus Telegram regarding Coredero's passing. In the email, he wrote that the Lakeview Crisis Team Members and school counselors were made available to students affected by the death to provide assistance and mental health resources.

“Juan was a positive, incredibly respectful, and helpful young man,” Borer wrote. “He was a good student and just a super nice kid. He will be greatly missed by his family, friends, and the entire Lakeview community. We extend our most heartfelt condolences to Juan’s family.”

Fire Chief Dan Miller said that it's uncommon for car accidents to occur in that location, which he described as a semi-rural area with a gravel road. He encouraged people to drive slower along these types of roads because they can be slippery this time of year due to melting ice. 

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“People need to be very careful with gravel roads,"Miller said, "because they’re soft because of rapid thaw."

Miller said on Tuesday that he was unaware of the cause of the accident and would leave that determination to the sheriff's office. According to the press release, an investigation showed that Cordero was wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash, but his airbags failed to deploy. The sheriff’s office is currently looking into the possibility of alcohol playing a factor in the accident. 

Sheriff Ed Wemhoff said the place where the accident occurred was not a heavily traveled roadway. He said it may take days or weeks for investigators to be able to properly determine the cause of the accident, but at the moment, all they're willing to say for sure is that the car somehow went off the road and into a ditch. 

"It's extremely tragic anytime you lose a young life," Wemhoff said. "Sometimes little mishaps can lead to bad accidents."

Wemhoff asked for anyone with additional information regarding this accident to contact the Platte County Sheriff’s Office at 402-564-3229, or Platte County Area Crime Stoppers at 402-563-4000.

Eric Schucht is a reporter for the Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at eric.schucht@lee.net.

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Eric Schucht earned his bachelor's degree in journalism at the University of Oregon in 2018. He has written for The Cottage Grove Sentinel, The Creswell Chronicle, The Pacific Northwest Inlander and The Roseburg News-Review.

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