Teen Driver in Nebraska Crash That Killed 4 Was Drinking and Speeding, Officials Say

By Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.
July 17, 2019 Updated: September 3, 2019

The 16-year-old driver of a vehicle which crashed in Nebraska last month, killing her and three of her four passengers, was speeding and driving over the legal alcohol limit, authorities confirmed.

A forensic examination found that at the time of the crash, the teen, Abigail Barth, was driving over 90 mph and had a blood alcohol reading of .09 after the crash, reported Omaha World-Herald.

Barth was driving the 2017 Ford Fusion east on Platteview Road, before it came to rest in a creek and burst into flames, the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office said on July 16.

She was reportedly driving above the speed limit of 55 mph.

The deadly crash killed the teen driver, as well as three of her close friends; Alex Minardi, 15, Kloe Odermatt, 16, and Addisyn Pfeifer, also 16. They were all students at Gretna High School and would have begun their 11th grade this year.

All except one in the vehicle tested positive for alcohol, authorities said. Minardi had a blood alcohol reading of .02; Brandon .05; and Odermatt .10, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Nebraska law states it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to drink alcohol, and have a blood alcohol reading higher than .02. For those 21 and above, it is against the law to have a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 or greater.

An individual aged 21 and under who has a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or above will receive the same penalties as an adult offender.

Roan Brandon, 15, survived the crash with injuries, and was a close friend and classmate of the four crash victims. She was treated for a broken clavicle and burns at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Lincoln, but has since been released, reported KETV.

Brandon’s family said the teen was devastated to find out she had lost four of her closest friends, and called her survival a “miracle.”

“Her biggest challenge was learning today that she lost her four best friends,” they posted on a Facebook community group page, reported Omaha World-Herald.

“She is devastated, but the grief counselor here is amazing.”

Investigators are still trying to find out how the teens obtained the alcohol and what they were drinking.

“The sheriff and his people are working diligently to see if someone else provided the alcohol—where it was obtained,” said Sarpy County Attorney Lee Polikov.

The sheriff’s office added it didn’t have any evidence to support preliminary supports suggesting the group attended a party in the area of 225th and Harrison Streets.

Florida Dad Killed While Teaching Teen Son How to Drive

Earlier this month, a teenager learning to drive with his father was involved in a fatal crash in Polk County, Florida, leaving him and his 7-year-old sister as orphans, according to reports.

The children’s father, Sandeep Beri, 57, was killed in the deadly head-on collision, just seven months after they lost their mother to cancer, reported WFLA.

While Beri was teaching his teenage son Nick to drive on July 7, their PT Cruiser was hit just before 12 p.m. by a vehicle driven by 22-year-old Nannette Cruz Garcia.

Beri was in the passenger seat at the time of the accident, while the 7-year old was in the back.

According to the sheriff’s office, the 22-year-old’s 2003 Toyota Corolla collided with the family’s PT Cruiser after it swerved over a raised median while she was traveling on Cypress Gardens Boulevard.

Beri was sadly pronounced dead at Lakeland Regional Health.

Spike in Teen Driving Accidents

As the end of the academic year approaches, law enforcement and AAA have warned there may be a sudden surge in teen driving accidents.

One in six crashes involving young people are caused by distractions, such as phones and even other passengers, AAA officials said, reported WBNS.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it is estimated that the likelihood of fatal teen crashes increases by 17 percent.

AAA spokeswoman, Kara Hitchens, said teens are more likely to drive recklessly during the summer months.

“They aren’t driving to school or to work as much,” she said. “They have more free time and may drive more recklessly.”

Isabel van Brugen
Isabel van Brugen is an award-winning journalist and currently a news reporter at The Epoch Times. She holds a master's in newspaper journalism from City, University of London.