‘It’s Difficult:’ Pregnant Mother and Children Killed in Car Crash

By Zachary Stieber

A woman who was due to give birth in March and her three children were killed in a crash in Nebraska, after a vehicle that was struck from behind flew into traffic and crashed head-on with the vehicle they were in.

Maria Cristina Menjivar, 32, and her three sons, Angel Menjivar, 7; Adrian Menjivar, 8; and Julian Menjivar, 10, were killed in the crash, along with Menjivar’s unborn baby girl.

“Maria was always such a positive, loving and hardworking mom. She did anything and everything to make sure her boys had all they needed and was always there for them. Her boys were three sweet little boys. She was also pregnant with her first baby girl due next month,” a family friend wrote on a GoFundMe fundraising page.

On Feb. 2 near Fremont, a 16-year-old identified as Jack Ford was stopped in the eastbound lane of Highway 30 trying to turn into Westlake Mobile Home Park.

That’s when he was struck from behind by a pickup truck driven by 33-year-old German Lopez Saenz. The impact drove the pickup into the oncoming traffic lane, where it slammed head-on into a 2001 Ford Taurus driven by Menjivar,  the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement obtained by KLKN.

She and her family members were all pronounced dead at the scene. Menjivar was not wearing a seatbelt; two of her children were while the other was not, officials said.

Ford was rushed to a hospital with two passengers and is expected to survive, reported the Omaha World-Herald. Saenz was also taken to a hospital and was in serious condition on Sunday, Feb. 3.

A search of records at the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles did not turn up a driver’s license for Saenz and he has been cited three times for driving without a driver’s license, the World-Herald reported. The third time, on Dec. 4, 2014, he was fined $75.

Officials said that after an initial investigation, they do not believe that alcohol was a factor in the crash.

‘It’s Difficult’

Law enforcement officials said that processing the scene was hard.

“We knew we had multiple victims and we knew we needed multiple squads,” Dodge County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Brie Frank told KETV. “It’s difficult. It’s definitely, it pulls at your heart strings and you want to feel for this family.”

“You’ve got younger guys that have kids on the department,” added Lt. Doug Backens with the Fremont Fire Department. “You’ve got some of us older guys that have had kids and now we’ve got grandkids, so it sets in.”

Fremont Fire Capt. Jamie Meyer said that counselors will be brought in for deputies and firefighters on Wednesday.

“Just the sights and the sounds and just letting guys talk about it and just getting that emotional edge off,” Meyer said. “It doesn’t mean it goes away.”

Fatal Car Crash Statistics

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, analyzing data from the Department of Transportation, there were 37,461 deaths from car accidents in 2016, the last year full data is available for. The deaths occurred across 34,439 fatal motor vehicle accidents.

The number means 11.6 deaths per 100,000 people and 1.16 deaths per 100 million miles traveled, although those numbers can vary widely across states.

The highest deaths per 100,000 population were in Mississippi, which saw 23.1 such deaths, and the most deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled were in South Carolina, which saw 1.88 such deaths.

The majority of fatal accidents are single-vehicle crashes, the institute noted.