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It happened quickly.

A calico cat in the back seat of the SUV traveling west on Interstate 80 near Goehner, paw on the window control.

Jessica DiRienzo was driving the Toyota and her husband, Larry, had unbuckled his seat belt to grab the couple’s cat, Abby.

“Jess looked back and swerved,” Sandy Monahan said from her home in upstate New York.

On April 6, the DiRienzos were en route from New York to Colorado, where Larry was starting a new job, said Monahan, a relative of the couple.

Larry, 33, died in the rollover accident; Jessica was injured and hospitalized for several days before returning home to New York.

The cat escaped. Law enforcement at the scene saw it run into a field near mile marker 376, Monahan said.

“At the time we were focused on all the matters at hand and didn’t think to start looking. My niece really, really, really would like to find the cat.”

The aunt has done her best from 1,100 miles away, posting photos of the lost animal to Facebook pages in the area.

And Nebraska animal lovers have assisted.

“The people of Nebraska are the nicest people,” she said. “This nice lady went out and looked for it. They put signs up.”

Heather Heald was that nice lady. The Lincoln woman is active in animal rescue and along with a Milford woman scoured the area where the cat was last seen, and posted flyers as far away as Seward.

She plans to renew a search for Abby before the weekend.

“I’m hoping to get some traps set and maybe with a little luck and some blessings we might catch her.”

Monahan is grateful.

Larry had given Jessica the cat nearly a year ago to keep her company while he traveled back and forth to Colorado for his work, the aunt said.

“They were just a beautiful, darling couple. They were just sort of starting their lives.”

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7218 or clangekubick@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @TheRealCLK.

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Columnist

Cindy Lange-Kubick joined the Lincoln Journal Star in 1994 and has loved covering life in her hometown ever since. Will write for chocolate. Or coffee.

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