Snow may be factor in fatal crash near Murray; today could be treacherous, too

Sunday’s snowy weather is believed to have contributed to three traffic deaths in eastern Nebraska. And forecasters are warning that conditions could be dangerous again Monday.

A Murdock, Nebraska, couple died about 10:30 a.m. when their vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic while they were traveling on Highway 75 near Murray.

Douglas and Donna Erhart, ages 62 and 67, respectively, were traveling south. Douglas Erhart was at the wheel when their 1999 Ford Taurus crossed into oncoming traffic and struck a 2017 GMC Terrain Denali driven by Karla A. Manzel, 66, of Bellevue. Manzel and a passenger, Elizabeth Schroeder, 69, of McLean, Virginia, were expected to survive.

A Milford man, Robert Robotham, 71, died after the vehicle he was driving rear-ended a jack-knifed semitrailer truck on Interstate 80 about 8 a.m. near Milford.

Three vehicles were involved in the crash. An eastbound semi driven by Jason May, 50, of Omaha jackknifed and was struck in the rear by Robotham’s 2007 Mercury Mariner and a 2016 Toyota pickup driven by Eliud Benitez, 42, of Omaha.

Robotham became trapped in the wreckage and had to be extracted by emergency crews. Benitez suffered minor injuries, and May was not reported as injured.

About an hour after Robotham was killed, a Lincoln woman and her two daughters got a scare when another semi went out of control near the site of the crash that killed Robotham. That semi crossed the median and sideswiped Tiffany Hale’s pickup truck. Hale, 40, had already slowed down after seeing the first crash and was able to maneuver to avoid a more serious collision with the semi, investigators said. She and her daughters were treated at Lincoln hospital and released.

Everyone involved in both of Sunday’s fatal collisions had been using seat belts, authorities said.

Also on Sunday morning, a crash on Interstate 80 in the Omaha metro area closed westbound I-80 at Highway 370 for about two hours, according to the Nebraska State Patrol.

On Monday, ice and afternoon snow could make travel to and from work or school tricky, the National Weather Service said.

There is a chance that freezing drizzle could arrive between 6 and 9 a.m., said Bryon Miller, a weather service meteorologist. Less than .10 of an inch of ice accumulation was forecast.

Snow is likely by the afternoon and is expected to continue into the overnight hours, according to the weather service. The Nebraska City area could see 3 to 5 inches of accumulation by the time the snowfall ends early Tuesday, with heavier amounts to the east and less to the west and south, Miller said.

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