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Lincoln's 'worst crash in recent memory' kills six

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Six people died early Sunday morning in what Lincoln Police called "the worst crash in Lincoln in recent memory."

LPD spent the day near 56th and Randolph streets investigating what caused a Honda Accord heading eastbound to cross the center of the road and collide with a tree in the yard of a house shortly after 2 a.m. Sunday.

The driver, a 26-year-old man, and four passengers were pronounced dead at the scene. Lincoln Fire & Rescue extricated a 24-year-old woman from the sedan. She was rushed to the hospital, but died late Sunday morning.

"I've been with this department for 25 years and can't remember anything as horrible," said LPD Assistant Chief Michon Morrow.

Lincoln Police were called to the crash at 2:16 a.m. The 26-year-old driver and four others — a 21-year-old man, two 22-year-old men and another man, 23 — were pronounced dead at the scene.

At 8:30 a.m., a Lincoln towing service was working to remove the sedan on a flatbed truck as investigators remained at the scene.

"There are no witnesses," Morrow said.

The posted speed limit is 25 mph on Randolph Street.

The impact of the car hitting the tree in the front yard was loud enough to awaken Erin Bartak, who thought the vehicle might have hit their house. She alerted her father, Brad, and brother Bronson.

Brad Bartak went outside, saw the airbags had been deployed and then saw people laying in the backseat.

He used a rock to break the back window, but the engine soon caught fire. He used a garden hose to try to contain the fire, while another neighbor attempted to help until the fire department arrived.

"We've been in this house since 1971 and this is probably the worst crash we've ever had," he said.

Morrow said that the names of the victims won't be released until all families have been notified.

Sunday's tragedy brings back memories of other fatal crashes involving young people in the area.

In April 2001, four people, three of them teenagers, were killed on Nebraska 2 near 14th Street when the station wagon they were in crossed the center divide and was struck by a dump truck.

In June 2019, four Gretna High School girls were killed when their eastbound Ford Fusion ran off Platteview Road, struck the end of a guardrail and ended up in a ravine near the intersection of 180th Street, according to the Sarpy County Sheriff's Department.

As for Sunday's crash, LPD is asking anyone who may have witnessed it, or who may have video from the area, to contact them at 402-441-6000 or contact Crime Stoppers at 402-475-3600.

Journal Star reporter Damon Bennett contributed to this story.

Reach the writer at 402-473-7391 or psangimino@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @psangimino

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