Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — A Minnesota community is in shock after a prominent family was involved in a major Kansas crash that killed five people and left 13 others injured.
Family friends identified the family as the Kerbers, of Jordan, Minn. Friends says the family lives for motocross racing.
The Kerbers were traveling from Texas with close friends in a modified freightliner box truck that was set up with living quarters and was towing a trailer.
Tragedy struck Sunday at 9 a.m. along Interstate-35 near Williamsburg, Kansas. Kansas State Patrol said the truck hit a guard rail and a concrete bridge before flipping over and dropping 30 feet down a ravine. Upon impact, the truck smashed into pieces.
Pictures from the air show debris scattered throughout the ravine.
The truck was carrying 18 people. Five died and 13 were injured in the crash. The five killed included adults and children, authorities said.
Thirty emergency vehicles responded to the crash and brought the wounded to various area hospitals.
A close family friend, who did not want to be identified, confirmed that the truck belonged to the Kerber family. The family owns Kerber Auto in Jordan, Minn.
The source said 46-year-old Pauline Kerber, the mother of the family, has 12 children. The source also said that three of those children decided to stay in Minnesota while the others, along with family friends, made their annual trek to San Antonio, Texas, for vacation.
A press release from Overland Park Medical Center said Pauline Kerber is in critical but stable condition. Her son, 17-year-old Adam Kerber, is in critical condition.
In the release, Pauline Kerber thanked the public for their love and support.
“We appreciate the prayers of so many, and appreciate you respecting our privacy as we mourn our deep loss,” she said.
Overland Park also treated a critically injured 8-year-old boy before transferring him to a children’s hospital. By Sunday night, at least five of the victims had been released from other hospitals in Topeka, Olathe and Ottawa.
Adam Kerber, seen in the video above with family friend Matt Wellumson, has won many trophies motocross racing. Wellumson shared the video with WCCO-TV before making the trek to Kansas to support the family.
The source said Pauline Kerber ‘s husband, Glen, died about five years ago. He was the one who introduced the family to motocross racing, and it was his dying wish to keep the children involved in the sport.
Family and friends are offering their support on Facebook and Twitter. At least two other families may have had children on board the truck.
The survivors were sent to several surrounding hospitals. Hospitals in Topeka, Olathe and Ottawa reported discharging five of the victims, while another victim being treated at a Kansas City, Kan., hospital was listed as fair. The conditions of the other victims weren’t immediately known.
Kirk Nelson, superintendent of Jordan Public School District in Minnesota, said students had last week off for spring break, and students were scheduled to return Monday. The district planned to have several additional grief counselors and ministers on hand.
“It’s a big shock to everybody, that’s for sure,” he said. “We’ve got some good staff, and they’ll all come together,” he said. “We’ll get started on healing.”
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