A teen brother and sister died in a head-on collision that was so horrific that a first responder nearly died after suffering a heart attack upon witnessing the scene.
Eric Neibaur, 15, and his sister Lauren Neibaur, 13, crashed their vehicle into an SUV driven by Jay Lanningham, 70, on US 30 near McCammon, Idaho. All three died in the wreck, Idaho State Journal (IJS) reported.
The fourth victim was a girl who authorities have not yet identified. She suffered critical injuries in the crash and was airlifted to a hospital. Authorities say she is expected to survive.
A first responder from Bannock County Search and Rescue was so horrified as he worked on pulling the bodies from the mangled vehicles that he suffered a heart attack on the scene. The first responder is also expected to survive.
Another rescuer, who arrived as the family of the siblings were trying to remove them from the wreckage, was so shaken by the events that she was given the day off.
Eric was driving westbound on Highway 30 in a red 1999 Chevrolet C1500 pickup truck and drifted into oncoming traffic where it collided with a 2011 Chevrolet Suburban driven by Lanningham.
State police say that they have an idea as to the cause of the crash, but are not yet releasing any details.
The siblings’ parents were ahead of them as they drove back from a dirt biking trip, checking up on the teenagers in the rear-view mirror periodically. But at one point the parents couldn’t see their children any more and slowed down. That’s when they received news that Eric and Lauren were involved in a crash.
The crash took away two funny and playful siblings who loved each other, their parents say.
Eric and Lauren were best friends with a “central theme of playful goofiness,” IJS reported. The step-father of the children, also named Eric, said that he wanted not only to marry their mom, Bobbi, but the children as well.
“The first time he came over to meet our kids we all had squirt guns and we just pummeled him as soon as he got out of his truck,” Bobbi Neibaur told IJS. “I thought that if he could handle that he could handle us.”
Eric Neibaur responded in the best way possible to the playflul trio.
“So I grabbed the water hose and went after all of them,” Eric said. “I think we got quite a bit of water in the house.”
The parents said that the pair would play together for hours on end before one of them would get upset.
Both Eric and Lauren were very athletic. Lauren participated in competitive gymnastics for the last four years. Eric was in love with football and played for the Century High School football team.
“The only sport that Eric played was football,” Bobbi Neibaur told IJS. “I tried to get that kid to play anything else, to just try something else and he said, ‘Nope, I’m playing football.'”
Lauren was the outgoing one, while Eric liked to spend time at home. The parents remember Lauren as the one who didn’t mind what other people thought of her, always doing everything she could to make everyone around her smile. Meanwhile, Eric liked to stay home and play video games with his friends.
Bobbi Neibaur said that Eric and Lauren were hardworking. The family went to visit their 92-year-old great-grandmother’s house every year. The siblings would mow the lawn, clean up after her dogs, take her to the grocery store, and help set up and take down Christmas decorations.
A Community Comes Together
Multiple fundraisers and a vigil have been set up for the grieving family.
On July 1st, Eric and Lauren’s friends, with the assistance of their parents, will have a fundraiser featuring a bake sales, silent auction, raffle, and a car wash.
“It’s about helping the Neibaur family and it gives these kids something positive to focus on during this difficult time,” Cassandra Tack, a friend of the family, told IJS.
Eddie Colon, a youth leader at Pocatello Baptist Church, got to know Eric and Lauren over the course of more than a year that the children participated in his program. His is now organizing a vigil for them at 8 p.m. this coming Wednesday at the Portneuf Wellness Complex. The vigil will be open to the public.
“I was blessed to have known them,” Eddie Colon told IJS. “They were the kind of kids you hope your kids turn out to be.”
A local coffee shop, Double Shot Coffee and Donuts, will hold a tip drive at their two locations according to their Facebook page.
“There will be several high school football players at the drive through location collecting tips in their helmets throughout the day,” the Facebook page states. “We look forward to seeing you there!”
A local baseball league will also collect donations for the family during an upcoming tournament. The Pocatello American Legion Baseball said that donation will be accepted during the Razorback tournament and that all profits from the breakfast sale will go to the family as well.