Five people were killed in collisions Sunday between Lincoln and York on Interstate 80.
The first collision claimed four lives, and traffic problems related to it may have contributed to two other crashes, said Cody Thomas, a spokesman for the Nebraska State Patrol. The crashes all occurred on eastbound I-80 over a span of about four hours and within 14 miles of one another, according to the patrol.
In the first collision, a car left westbound I-80 and collided with a vehicle in eastbound I-80, blocking traffic there. Behind that backup, a semitrailer truck driver who may have been texting failed to slow down and collided with traffic in front of him, leading to his death and a fiery wreck, Thomas said.
The crashes closed I-80 eastbound temporarily, and when the Interstate reopened, traffic was nearly at a standstill, according to Nebraska 511.
"It's been a bad day on I-80 between Lincoln and York with multiple fatality crashes," the State Patrol tweeted.
The crashes were at mile markers 367, 378 and 381, which places them near the Beaver Crossing, Seward and Milford exits respectively.
The NSP helicopter landed on the Interstate to assist at mile marker 367.
Seward County Sheriff Joe Yocum said the crash that claimed four lives occurred about 8 a.m.
Yocum said the crash occurred when a westbound vehicle left the Interstate and struck an eastbound vehicle near the Milford rest area. Four occupants of the westbound vehicle were killed, and the driver of the eastbound vehicle was taken to the hospital.
The names of those involved in that crash are being withheld pending notification of family, Yocum said.
About 10 a.m., Abdiaziz Jama, 33, a semitrailer truck driver from Columbus, Ohio, drove into the rear of another semi, causing a chain reaction that included a third semi and a Ram pickup.
Jama died and a passenger, Mohamed Apdullahi, 30, was taken to the hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening.
Investigators believe that Jama may have been texting at the time of the crash, according to a statement from the patrol.
Then, at 11:35 a.m., the driver of a Chevrolet SUV failed to realize that traffic had slowed and consequently rear-ended a semi. The driver of the SUV, Jeffrey Eymann, 68, of Grand Island was taken to the hospital with injuries that aren't believed to be life-threatening.