Icy interstate blamed for fatal wreck in Nebraska

| 2/14/2007

Nebraska State Police say winter weather is the likely culprit in a nine-vehicle pileup this week that proved fatal for one trucker.

A tractor-trailer driven by Jody Gordon, 35, was heading west on Interstate 80 on Monday, Feb. 12, when it clipped the back of a four-wheeler driving the same direction, sending both vehicles into the highway's median.

Gordon's rig continued to slide and struck an eastbound tractor-trailer, causing that truck to jackknife and spill a load of pigs onto Interstate 80 near Hershey, NE.

Three additional trucks and three more four-wheelers piled up at the crash scene, which shut down eastbound lanes on the highway for nine hours, according to Deb Collins, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska State Patrol.

Gordon, a 35-year-old Land Line Magazine reader from Bismarck, ND, was killed in the wreck.

Investigators haven't found out what started the crash, other than citing slick roads from the winter's recent snow and ice.

"There was heavy snow and ice at the time," Collins said. "I don't know if (Gordon) was attempting to pass or whether the (four-wheeler) slowed down."

An estimated 150 pigs were scattered by the crash, some of which were killed, Collins said. Troopers occasionally see animals on the highway after accidents involving pickups and tractor trailers, she said.

"Any time you have as much interstate in your state as we do, unfortunately you get (wrecks) involving livestock," Collins said.

- By Charlie Morasch, staff writer