Justice Coleman was a bright light that went out too soon.

That’s what her father, Michael Coleman of Lincoln, said about her.

“She was a good girl,” he said. “She was happy and loving and outgoing and, you know, there’s not enough I can say about her.”

Justice, 16, died Sunday from injuries after the vehicle she was driving collided head-on with a pickup hauling a backhoe on West O Street between Capitol Beach Boulevard and Northwest 14th Street around 9 a.m.

According to Lincoln Police Capt. Danny Reitan, Coleman was headed eastbound and the truck westbound when the two vehicles collided.

The driver of the truck also was taken to a local hospital where he was treated and released later in the afternoon. The crash remains under investigation.

Justice was a junior at Pius X.

Michael and Justice's mother, Stacy, also of Lincoln, said their daughter was known as a hard worker who loved to read and write for as long as they can remember. Michael said he could still remember a poem she’d given to him last Father’s Day.

“She sat down and wrote me this wonderful poem,” he said. “She thought that’d be a better present than running out and getting me something.”

They also remembered her as the funny smart aleck, a loyal friend and a fiercely defensive family member. She took family seriously, which is why she was looking at staying in Lincoln to attend college.

She wanted to find an outlet for her writing, but also stay close to her parents and others.

As the sun set over the football field at Pius X less than 10 hours after the accident, nearly 300 students kneeled and joined hands in a circle, chanting Hail Marys and singing hymns.

The event, which was organized by Pius X’s administration, included a student-led rosary at 8 p.m. following mass led by Father Jim Meysenburg in the school’s gymnasium.

This isn’t the first time Principal Tom Korta has seen this happen. When another student died nine years ago, Korta said it put the school through similar stages of shock and emotional tribulation. He said it’s as important now as it was then to come together.

“Our faith tells us the struggle is part of the journey,” Korta said. “It reminds us of how precious we are to each other.”

Korta said he too remembered Justice as a positive, energetic person who always put a smile on his face. Like when she interviewed him for the school paper last week.

Her newspaper adviser, Nolan DeWispelare, said he also saw this side of Justice.

It especially shined through when she would bring chocolate covered espresso beans to the class because she thought the other eight newspaper students needed some cheering up.

But he also remembered Justice as the person with big ideas.

DeWispelare said she was always looking for ways to make the paper more accessible and more fun for students. She wanted other students at the school to love the paper, and she was determined to do that through any story, graphic or photo she could find.

At Sunday night's rosary ended, the silence was broken only by sobs before a single voice begins singing the opening line of a song most of the students know from choir: “As I Kneel.”

Others join in, hand-in-hand, eyes closed and kneeling as they sway back and forth while the last glimpse of sunlight sets behind the trees.

Sign up for our Crime & Courts newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Staff writer Michael Shoro contributed to this report.


Load comments