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Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2003

Two Kansas Citians killed in triple fatality on I-80

November 2, 2003

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— The efforts of several people to save victims in a fiery two-car crash on Interstate 80 in Council Bluffs kept one man alive but three people died, police said.

Ernest Harrington, 21, of Omaha, Neb.; and Maurice Hopson, 62, and Ella Tipler, 62, both of Kansas City, Mo., died in the Friday night accident.

Harrington's car entered the interstate from a Council Bluffs street when it hit a light pole, crossed both lanes of traffic and the median and collided with the car driven by Hopson, Police Sgt. Pat Toscano said.

Hopson's car was then struck by two semitrailers and burst into flames. Tipler was a front-seat passenger in Hopson's car.

A back-seat passenger, James Tipler, also of Kansas City, was in serious condition Saturday at an Omaha hospital, Toscano said. James Tipler's age was not immediately known.

Harrington was removed from his car but died later at an Omaha hospital.

Hopson and his passengers were pulled from the burning car by other motorists, Toscano said.

"Those guys deserve credit," Toscano said. "This is one of the worst (accidents) for a long time for mayhem that I've seen, and I've been around a long time."

Lonnie Van Dyne, 35, the driver of one of the semitrailers in the crash and co-worker Eugene Gilbert, 46, frantically tried to rescue the victims.

"It burst into flames right away," Gilbert told the Omaha World-Herald. "I went for the front-seat passenger because flames were coming out the windshield, and he was in the worst place."

The 5 p.m. accident closed the eastbound and westbound lanes of the Interstate near Bluffs Run Casino until about midnight.

The Nebraska State Patrol said it also closed part of eastbound I-80 in Nebraska near the Missouri River bridge.

Van Dyne, a driver for Hunt Transportation, said he saw the crash and quickly locked the brakes on his truck. "There was nothing I could do," he said.

Gilbert was following in Van Dyne's pickup truck as they were headed to a truck stop on 24th Street. He said the Lincoln quickly burst into flames.

Toscano said the injuries that killed Hopson and Ella Tipler and injured James Tipler appeared to be connected to the violent collisions and not the subsequent fire.

Harrington's car did not catch on fire and he appears to have died from impact-related injuries, Toscano said.

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