The truck accident occurred on July 31, 2016, at about 11:30 a.m. on Interstate 80.
Weekly was traveling westbound in a commercial truck through a construction zone with a temporary speed limit of 65 miles per hour, 10 miles lower than the normal speed limit of 75 miles per hour.
For reasons that are still unknown, Weekly did not slow down as he approached a 2006 Dodge minivan in traffic, and his truck slammed into the rear of that van, causing extensive damage.
Jamison Pals, 29 was driving the minivan, and his wife Kathryne, 29 and their three children were also passengers in the vehicle at the time of the accident.
The impact of the collision drove the Dodge minivan into a 1994 Plymouth Voyager minivan, a 2015 Nissan Rogue SUV, and a 2013 Ford van.
Weekly’s semi truck and the 2006 Dodge minivan erupted into flames.
All five members of the Pals family died at the scene of the accident. The children were identified as 3-year-old Ezra, 2-year-old Violet, and 2 ½-month-old Calvin.
Terry Sullivan, the 56-year-old driver of the Plymouth minivan was taken to the hospital, where he died the next day after being placed on life support.
Weekly was treated for minor injuries, released from the hospital, and arrested.
Police described Weekly as “inattentive and distracted by outside influences,” and said he failed to slow down as his truck neared the Pals’ minivan.
Police did not explain what they meant by “outside influences,” but it’s clear that Weekly was not fully focused on traffic in the moments before the accident occurred.
Authorities took a blood sample from Weekly after he was arrested, but have not disclosed the results.
Fred Zwonechek, an official with the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety, said that the truck accident was the worst he’s seen in 10 years.
Zwonechek referenced a November 6, 2006 accident in which five people died in a head-on collision on Interstate 80, as the last time he had seen an accident with the same type of severity.
The Pals’ were traveling to Palmer Lake, Co for a five-week language immersion and culture assimilation session in preparation for mission work in Nagoya, Japan that was to have started in October.
Weekly is a commercial driver for Bohren Logistics Inc., a truck carrier based in Garrett, Indiana.
A spokesperson for the company issued a statement that read in part, “We extend our heartfelt thoughts and prayer to the relatives and friends of the Pals family for this devastating loss. Bohren Logistics is committed to cooperating with law enforcement authorities investigating this accident.”