The Gretna community has been grieving their loss. The Omaha community has rallied in their memory.
Now, their names are known to all:
Thursday, authorities released the names of four Gretna teenagers who died in this week’s horrible car crash, along with a fifth victim being treated at a Lincoln hospital. That is Roan Brandon, 15, who found out Wednesday that her four best friends had died.
Sarpy County authorities and Gretna Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Riley held a press conference to discuss the crash.
“Our collective heart in our community is shattered,” Riley said. “We ache for the families.”
Riley said the five girls were inseparable friends who participated in such activities as soccer, volleyball and National Honor Society. Barth, Odermatt and Pfeifer were 16, Minardi 15.
“These are good girls,” he said. “They’re smart girls. They’re the closest of friends.”
Authorities also gave the first indication of how the crash happened; Sheriff Jeff Davis said investigators believe speed was a factor.
But Davis declined to go into specifics about the investigation, saying it is ongoing and authorities will turn over every stone to figure out what happened.
"We owe it to the families to get to the bottom of what happened,” Davis said. “Not only for their sake but to see if there's anything we can do to make sure it doesn't happen again."
The crash happened late Monday night along Platteview Road, a rural area about three miles east of the Nebraska Crossing Outlets.
Investigators determined that the Ford Fusion was eastbound on Platteview Road when it left the roadway and struck the end of a guardrail. That happened just west of 180th Street and Platteview Road.
The vehicle continued down into a ravine and caught fire.
First-responders were called to the scene — initially reported as a grass fire by a passerby — at 11:12 p.m. and found the car.
Brandon was ejected from the vehicle in the crash, as was at least one other girl, Davis said. He said the car belonged to Barth and she was the driver.
Brandon was taken to Creighton University Medical Center-Bergan Mercy before being transferred to St. Elizabeth Regional Medical Center in Lincoln.
Davis said it took authorities until late Wednesday night to identify the victims.
Riley called the girls’ families good families who monitored their daughters closely. But he said parents can’t protect their children from everything, and sometimes kids get together and make mistakes.
“We’re in a nightmare that we can’t wake up from,” Riley said. Hundreds of Gretna students have met with crisis counselors since the accident, he said.
“The road will twist and turn,” he said. “But by the grace of God and the love and support of friends and family, we will heal.”