John and Jessica Lyons

John Lyons, Jessica Lyons and John Lyons Jr.

Courtesy photo

A 27-year-old Lincoln woman died early Monday morning after being thrown from an SUV south of Lincoln.

Jessica Lyons was in the back seat of a 2002 Jeep Cherokee heading west on Saltillo Road near 56th Street about 3:20 a.m. when the driver lost control on the icy road and went into the south ditch, Lancaster County Sheriff Terry Wagner said.

“All of a sudden — boom — there was ice,” said Lyons' husband, John, who was riding shotgun. “He was turning that wheel and then he stomped on the brakes.”

The SUV rolled at least once, and maybe as many as three times, throwing driver John Norbert and Jessica Lyons out, her husband said later Monday morning. Norbert landed on the grass, but she hit the pavement.

“She got the worst of it,” John Lyons said.

Wagner said investigators aren't sure the Jeep rolled but are still trying to figure out what happened.

“We’re not going to rule anything out,” he said.

The Lyonses were training to fill in on a Lincoln Journal Star delivery route for Norbert, 45, of Lincoln, the sheriff said.

Norbert was to have back surgery and expected to be out for at least a week, John Lyons said.

He said he used to deliver newspapers in Malcolm and Seward County, but quit after getting a job at Kawasaki, which he later lost. He decided to make a little money and help Norbert.

“He subbed my route a while back, and I was trying to return the favor,” Lyons said.

The three people in the Jeep weren't wearing seat belts, Wagner said.

Norbert said he was going about 60 mph, Lyons said.

Deputies haven’t given any citations and won’t until they finish their investigation, Wagner said.

A helicopter rescue crew flew Jessica Lyons to Bryan West Campus, where doctors pronounced her dead.

Ambulances took Norbert and John Lyons, 28, to the hospital. John Lyons was released after treatment, but Norbert was in intensive care in serious condition, the sheriff said.

Deputies shut down Saltillo Road between 40th and 56th streets for at least five hours, Wagner said.

Lyons said he’s planning a funeral with Butherus, Maser and Love Funeral Home, but hasn’t figured out when the service will be.

Delivering papers can get boring, so his wife sometimes rode with him to keep him company, John Lyons said.

Jessica, who also went by Jess and Jessie, liked to crochet, play games on Facebook and get behind the wheel.

“She loved to drive. She’d always ask me for the keys,” her husband said. "She liked to get out. She hated being cooped up in the house.”

That’s one of the reasons he took her along Monday morning, he said at his Air Park home. Then he paused.

“I should’ve made her stay home.”

She grew up in Auburn, graduated from high school there and went to Southeast Community College. She recently decided to take classes focusing on youth services and family advocacy.

“She really loved kids,” John Lyons said.

Their 16-month-old son, John Jr., was a surprise, his dad said. Doctors had told Jessica, who had multiple sclerosis, she couldn’t have children.

“That’s her miracle child,” John Lyons said. “That’s what she called him.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7395 or jedwards@journalstar.com. On Twitter @LJSEdwards.

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