KEARNEY — A warrant has been issued for a California man in the Sept. 20 crash near a construction zone on Interstate 80 that resulted in the deaths of three people.
Kenneth E. Kratt, 34, of Madera, Calif., is charged in a Buffalo County warrant with three counts of felony manslaughter in the unintentional deaths of Ryan Vanicek, 37 of Schuyler, Daniel Seelhoff, 50, of Lincoln and Scott Gaylord, 54, of Lincoln. The charges accuse Kratt of reckless and willful reckless driving.
Court records outline the case against Kratt:
The crash occurred at approximately 3 p.m. one mile east of the Gibbon interchange as traffic slowed entering a construction zone on I-80. Records say a Nebraska State Patrol investigation revealed Kratt was allegedly driving a 2020 Peterbilt semitrailer 75 mph to 78 mph in the construction zone and first hit the rear of a 2017 Chevrolet Silverado driven by Vanicek that had slowed for traffic in the construction zone.
The chain reaction crashes allegedly caused the deaths of Vanicek and Seelhoff, both occupants of the Silverado that caught fire.
The third fatality allegedly happened when Kratt hit the rear of a 2019 Chevrolet Equinox, driven by Gaylord, causing it to go under the trailer of a 2019 Volvo semi.
In all, seven vehicles — the Peterbilt, Silverado, Equinox, Volvo, a 2010 Ford pickup, a 2007 Toyota Camry and a 2012 Chevrolet Impala — were involved in the crash.
Three other people sustained injuries in the crash, but none were considered to be life-threatening. Kratt wasn’t seriously injured.
At the time of the crash records say there was a construction zone for eastbound traffic from one mile east of the Kearney interchange to one mile east of Gibbon interchange. The crash happened about 3.5 miles into the construction zone.
Flashing signs in the construction zone area read: “Slow Down/Slow Traffic Ahead,” “Road Work” and 65 MPH Speed Zone.” The passing lane was closed near the Gibbon interchange requiring all eastbound traffic to merge into the driving lane.
I-80 was closed to eastbound traffic for approximately seven hours, while westbound lanes were closed for approximately one hour.
Anyone with information about Kratt’s whereabouts is asked to contact any law enforcement agency.