A last-minute Christmas shopping trip to Omaha took a tragic turn when two Conestoga High School students died as a result of a two-car accident Sunday.
Jenna Miner, 14, of Murray, was pronounced dead at the scene on U.S. Highway 75 south of Plattsmouth in Cass County. Her friend Savannah Robertson, 17, of Plattsmouth, died Monday. She had been in extremely critical condition when transported by helicopter to Nebraska Medical Center.
Also injured in the crash were Travis Laporte, 36, of Papillion and his brother, Kevin Laporte, 34, of Bellevue. They were listed in good condition Monday afternoon at the medical center.
On Monday, families and friends of the two girls struggled to make sense of their loss.
Savannah was a senior at Conestoga High School in Murray, where Jenna was a freshman. The two girls became “practically inseparable friends,” said Conestoga Principal David Friedli.
“They were so alike,” Friedli said. “These were two girls who cared about everybody, and that's probably one reason why they hung out together.”
Funeral services for Jenna will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at First Presbyterian Church in Plattsmouth.
Services for Savannah have not been announced.
Friedli said Savannah comes from a military family and moved to the area last spring. Conestoga was the third high school she had attended.
Her father, Phillip Robertson, told Friedli that his daughter was on life support following the accident so that organ donations could be arranged.
“That was typical of Savannah,” Friedli said. “She came in and immediately made an impact at our school in drama, dance and music. She received drama awards this fall for a one-act play.”
Brian Miner said his daughter, Jenna, and Savannah were headed to Omaha for some last-minute Christmas shopping. He also described the girls as “very close” friends.
“Savannah was a great friend of Jenna's and our family,” he said. “This whole thing is just a crying shame.”
Investigators from the Cass County Sheriff's Office said Savannah was driving a 2002 Pontiac Grand Prix north on Highway 75 near Rock Bluff Road about 10:30 a.m. when the car crossed the center line and collided head-on with a 1989 Ford Probe driven by Travis Laporte.
Jenna was partially ejected and pronounced dead at the scene.
“From what I know, this was purely an accident,” Brian Miner said. “It's difficult to understand why these things happen. You wonder why this happened to these girls, who are both such sweethearts.”
Miner said he knew he would “sound like a father bragging” but that everyone loved Jenna. She doted, he said, on her 4- and 3-year-old nephews.
“You couldn't have hoped to meet a more pleasant person or better person,” he said. “If I was having a bad day, I could think of Jenna and it just changed everything.”
In addition to her father, Jenna is survived by her mother, Kathy Miner; brothers, Caleb of Omaha and Tanner of Union, Neb.; and sisters, Savannah of Murray, and Jessica Lusch of Bellevue. Her biological mother, Sonja Miner, died in 2002 in a horse-riding accident.
In addition to her father, Savannah Robertson's survivors include her mother, Rebecca Robertson of Weeping Water, Neb.; stepmother, Tracy Robertson; and brother, Phillip.