After agonizing wait, 2 bodies found after car crashes into shop - Omaha.com
Published Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 3:24 pm
After agonizing wait, 2 bodies found after car crashes into shop

Photo showcase: Car runs into thrift shop at 42nd and Leavenworth Streets

* * *

UPDATE: Leavenworth Street's eastbound lanes one block west of 42nd Street have been closed. Westbound lanes have been converted to two-way traffic.

* * *

Dozens of police officers, firefighters, city workers and utility employees invested 18 hours into the grim task of recovering two bodies.

The bodies, inside a Leavenworth Street thrift store that had been made structurally unsafe by the force of a car crash, couldn't be reached. One, in fact, went undetected for about 14 hours.

Workers used a bomb-squad robot to remove debris and view the scene.

Heavy machinery clawed away debris.

And finally a trench box, or large structure to protect workers if the sagging roof fell, helped rescue personnel get to the bodies Saturday afternoon.

Police identified the dead men as driver Dustin R. Hollenbeck, 24, and passenger Dylan J. Thompson, 20, both of Omaha. Neither man had been using a seat belt.

The driver lost control of the car as it barreled north on 42nd Street, then slid and smashed through the wall of the New 2 You thrift store. Hollenbeck and Thompson were both ejected before the car bounced off the wall or a beam and back onto the street.

Traffic Sgt. Jason Menning said he didn't know how fast the car was traveling.

“All I can say is reckless,” Menning said. “It's extremely high speed. This isn't a 30- or 40-mile-an-hour accident.”

He said the car, a 1997 Buick Park Avenue, crossed two southbound lanes and struck a fire hydrant before slamming into the thrift store.

The crash occurred Friday about 9:15 p.m., and rescue workers removed the bodies about 3:15 p.m. Saturday.

The wreck left a massive hole in the wall and the roof bowed. Authorities feared the roof would collapse and for hours didn't allow anyone — even rescuers — inside the building, through which rubble and bricks were strewn.

“This is incredibly dangerous right now,” Officer James Shade said Saturday. “They deemed this completely unsafe.”

Scott Goff, owner of New 2 You, said after talking with the structural engineer that he hoped to eventually remove what he can.

Goff said the engineer told him the building would be stabilized and boarded up within the next couple of days. The bowing roof will have to be taken down.

Goff said he opened the shop in November. It contains furniture, antiques, collectibles, guitars, drums, photos, art and other items.

“We invested lots of time and money,” Goff said, “and we've lost it all.”

Omaha police used a bomb squad robot Friday night to verify that one victim was dead. Then family members told police Saturday morning they were sure a second man, who they said had been with the first, was inside the building as well.

Police used a piece of heavy machinery to claw at the rubble inside the building, at 4201 Leavenworth St., and the robot was deployed again. It was late morning before Shade confirmed that a second victim had perished inside and been found.

At one point about 40 family members stood or sat on a bench on the northeast corner, across from the accident scene, and waited. Some hugged each other.

Numerous cars and trucks from the Omaha Police Department, Omaha Fire Department, Omaha Public Works Department and utility companies were at the scene, as were dozens of police officers, rescue squad members and other workers.

Yellow caution tape prevented vehicles and spectators from getting close. Heavy trucks were positioned in front of the scene to prevent gawking.

Shade said workers secured a billboard and a chimney on or near the roof so they wouldn't fall in if the roof collapsed.

Portions of 42nd and Leavenworth Streets remained closed late Saturday as city officials worked to secure the area.

Menning said public works employees were installing fencing around the crash scene to allow for the reopening of some traffic lanes. He said traffic message boards also had been installed in the area.

Contact the writer: Rick Ruggles

rick.ruggles@owh.com    |   402-444-1123    |  

Rick covers health and medicine. He also occasionally covers cops, breaking news and events around town.

Omaha police investigate two Sunday shootings
Sole big donor to Beau McCoy says he expects nothing in return
Firefighters battle brush fire near Fontenelle Forest
Sioux City riverboat casino prepares to close, still hoping to be saved
Omaha high schoolers to help canvass for Heartland 2050
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
Grant ensures that Sioux City can start building children's museum
Party looks to 'nudge' women into public office in Iowa
For birthday, Brownell-Talbot student opts to give, not get
Two taken to hospital after fire at Benson home
Grace: Pipe organ concert a tribute to couple's enduring love
Omaha-area jails and ERs new front line in battling mental illness
Convicted killer Nikko Jenkins might await his sentence in prison
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
Civil rights hearing to consider voting policies in Midwest
17 senators in Nebraska Legislature hit their (term) limits
It's a pursuit of pastel at Spring Lake Park's Easter egg hunt
Financial picture improving for city-owned Mid-America Center
No injuries after fire at midtown's old Mercer Mansion
29-year-old Omahan arrested for 22nd time in Lincoln
Police: Slaying of woman in Ralston apartment likely over drugs
Explosion near 29th, Woolworth damages vehicles
Omaha police arrest man, 19, accused in March shooting
Earth gets its day in the sun at Elmwood Park
Beau McCoy strikes Obama doll in TV ad; Democrats are not happy
< >
COLUMNISTS »
Kelly: 70 years after a deadly D-Day rehearsal, Omahan, WWII vet will return to Europe
A World War II veteran from Omaha will return this week to Europe to commemorate a tragedy in the run-up to D-Day.
Dickson’s Week in Review, April 13-19
On Twitter some guy tweeted that the spring game isn’t taken as seriously as a regular-season contest. What was your first clue? When the head coach entered waving a cat aloft?
Kelly: A California university president returns to her Nebraska roots on Ivy Day
The main speaker at today's Ivy Day celebration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is a college president who grew up roping calves and earned her Ph.D. at the prestigious Oxford University in England.
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
PHOTO GALLERIES »
< >
SPOTLIGHT »
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
WORLD-HERALD ALERTS »
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for Omaha.com's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »