Fiery crash takes life of HTRS junior


By Jason Schock

A 16-year-old Humboldt-TR-S High School junior was pronounced dead on the scene of a fiery three-car auto accident Saturday afternoon on Highway 75 at the junction of Highway 62, four miles west of Stella. 

According to members of the Richardson County Sheriff’s Dept., Devon Lee Hunzeker, son of Aaron and Melinda Hunzeker, of Humboldt, was traveling westbound on Highway 62 in a 2000 Pontaic Grand Am, failed to stop at the intersection and entered Highway 75. His vehicle was struck broadside by a northbound semi tractor trailer driven by 55-year-old Cheryl Van Briesen, of Ashton, IA. As the collision occurred, both Hunzeker’s car and Van Briesen’s semi struck  a southbound 2008 Ford Ranger pickup, driven by Richard “Andrew” McMullen, 79, of Stella. McMullen was attempting to turn east onto Highway 62.

Hunzeker’s Grand Prix burst into flames and was split in half. The young man was ejected from the car, which came to rest alongside McMullen’s Ford pickup in the northwest ditch of the intersection. The semi came to rest approximately 500 feet north of the point of impact on the southbound shoulder, facing north. 

Both McMullen and Van Briesen were transported to the Nemaha County Hospital in Auburn, then McMullen was later flown to Lincoln Bryan West Hospital for non life-threatening injuries.

The call came in at 2:58 p.m. Also responding to the scene were members of the Richardson County Emergency Management Agency, Humboldt Fire and Rescue and the Nemaha County/Auburn Ambulance crews. The Nebraska State Patrol Troopers and NSP Carrier Enforcement assisted with the accident investigation. Crews were on the scene for some four hours. 

Alcohol was not believed to be a factor, and Devon Hunzeker was not believed to be on his cell phone, either, as a phone was later retrieved from his front pants pocket. Furthermore, the Van Briesen semi truck was found to be compliant of commercial motor vehicle laws and its brakes proved to be in good condition. 

Funeral services for Devon Lee Hunzeker will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 7, 2014 at The Christian Church in Humboldt, with Pastor Howard Blecha officiating. Visitation will be held from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 at Wherry Mortuary in Humboldt, with family greeting friends from 6-8 p.m. Interment will be at the Humboldt Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Devon Hunzeker Memorial Fund established at the State Bank of Table Rock, 300 N. Nemaha ST., Humboldt, NE 68376. 

HTRS will not let out of school or change its schedule Friday. 

Devon was born Feb. 9, 1998 in Pawnee City to Aaron Hunzeker and Christina Findeis. He attended Paddock Lane Elementary School in Beatrice through the 2nd grade before moving to Humboldt where he continued his education at HTRS.  

He was a very involved student and athlete at HTRS, participating in varsity basketball, wrestling, track and was a starting linebacker for the 2014 HTRS football team.  Devon loved music, especially playing the guitar. He was a member of HTRS youth group and a member of the Humboldt Christian church where he was baptized and confirmed.  

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Donna and Bruce Winker.

Devon is survived by his parents: Aaron and Melinda Hunzeker, of Humboldt, and Christina and Curtis Schmidt, of Beatrice; brothers, Bryant Hunzeker, Logan Hunzeker, Javisi Bednar, Ayden Hunzeker and Kiffan Hunzeker; grandparents, Eldon and Jane Hunzeker, of Wahoo; Dennis and Debbie Findeis, of Marysville, KS; Alan and Joyce Strong, of Pawnee City; Craig and Teresa Schmidt, of Walterboro, SC; great-grandmother, Mary Overfield, of Humboldt; and many other aunts, uncles, cousins, relatives, and friends.

Online messages of condolence can be left at www.wherrymortuary.com

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