Longmont Girl Killed in Nebraska Crash, Family Seriously Injured
An 11-year-old Longmont girl and Columbine Elementary School student was killed in a fatal crash on Interstate 80 near Ogallala, Neb., this weekend.
Karen Valverde was with her family in a Chevrolet Tahoe traveling to visit family in Chicago for the holiday, according to close family friend Yesenia Pena. While driving east on the highway around 4:10 p.m. on Saturday, Karen’s father, Edgar Valverde, suffered a seizure.
The other passengers in the vehicle, which included Karen’s mother Berenice Valverde and siblings Joslyn, Jazmin and Dylan, attempted to gain control of the truck, according to a news release from the Nebraska State Patrol.
The truck struck the median and then went back across the highway before landing in a ditch, where it rolled over. Nebraska State Patrol said that four of the occupants were ejected, and it’s believed that none of them were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.
Karen was taken to Ogallala Community Hospital, where she later died. The Valverdes are raising money for Karen’s funeral using a GoFundMe page . Pena said that Karen’s body is still in Nebraska, so the family has to find a way to get her home as well as to pay for services.
Pena said that Karen had fought through a lot and had an unspecified medical condition, but that didn’t seem to bring down her spirit.
“Her smile was just amazing,” Pena said. “She never got mad. She was just so happy.”
Karen had bought chocolates, her favorite treat, to give to friends before leaving to visit family for Christmas, Pena said. She was “excited to get older,” and talked about learning how to drive and getting a truck like her father.
Her brother, 9-year-old Dylan, was airlifted to Denver Children’s Hospital in Aurora and was in critical condition after getting a bad concussion, Pena said. He is now able to talk and doing better, she said.
Jazmin, 16, fractured her spine and is currently in a back brace, and 15-year-old Joslyn broke her clavicle and hurt much of the right side of her body.
The father and mother both suffered head injuries, Pena said.
Nebraska State Patrol is still investigating the crash, which only involved the Tahoe.
Madeline St. Amour: 303-684-5212, firstname.lastname@example.org