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Rosemount grad mourned after fatal Nebraska crash

Joan Ocampo-Yambing was mourned during a prayer service Aug. 21 at St. John’s Church at Creighton Catholic University in Omaha. Yambing, a Rosemount native, was killed Aug. 21 when the car she was riding in was rear-ended by a semi truck on Interstate 80 in Nebraska. Submitted photo courtesy of Creighton University.

A Rosemount High School graduate died in a four-vehicle crash Aug. 21 in Omaha, Neb.

Joan R. Ocampo-Yambing, 19, was one of four college students in a 2013 Toyota Prius. They reportedly were en route to view the solar eclipse in Lincoln when they were rear-ended shortly before 10 a.m. by a semi-truck driven by Robert J. Richmond on westbound Interstate 80. Police said Richmond, 69, failed to notice that traffic on the interstate had backed up. Richmond was not injured and an investigation is underway.

A report in the Omaha World Herald attributed the congestion to travelers on their way to view the solar eclipse.

The four occupants of the Prius were students at Creighton, a Jesuit Catholic University in Omaha. They were transported to area hospitals. Ocampo-Yambing was pronounced dead at Nebraska Medicine.

Omaha Fire Department rescue squads also extricated and transported two occupants of a 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible that was struck and pinned by the Peterbilt. The impact sent the Sebring into the rear of another truck. The driver of that truck was not injured.

Ocampo-Yambing was a sophomore majoring in computer science at Creighton. University spokeswoman Cindy Workman couldn't say if she and her classmates were on their way to view the solar eclipse when they were rear-ended. Grief counselors were being made available to students, she said.

Ocampo-Yambing was mourned during a prayer service Aug. 21 at St. John's Church on the Creighton campus. University President Fr. Daniel S. Hendrickson led prayers for her and for the recovery of the other three students who remain hospitalized with injuries from the crash: Will Tavis, Madalene Steichen and Demetra Arvanitakis. Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening, Omaha police said.

The freshman class observed a moment of silence Aug. 22 during their pathways orientation service on the campus.

HollyAnn Harris, associate dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and an adviser to Ocampo-Yambing, said in a statement that "Joan Ocampo-Yambing was a beautiful, gentle soul. She was quiet in a contemplative way. She spoke when she had something important to say, and others listened. She had a positive attitude and faced both good times and adversity with equal grace."

Ocampo-Yambing was a 2016 graduate of Rosemount High School and a member of their speech team. An AP honors scholar, she was awarded a $2,500 Discovery Scholarship last year.

Kim Budde, an assistant principal at Rosemount High School, is also arts and activities Director. She got to know Ocampo-Yambing through the latter's participation in the school choir.

"Joan was an absolute positive force in our building," Budde said. "She always had a smile on her face. She lived life to the fullest she was in the moment all the time. She was somebody that students may not have known well but they knew who she was by her smile alone."

Rosemount City Administrator Logan Martin said Ocampo-Yambing served as a member of the Youth Commission, which advised the city council.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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