Three years after a controversial 1-car wreck took the lives of four teen-age girls and injured a fifth, a trial date in a case of who’s-to-blame has been set. 

And it’s another year away: The accident was June 17, 2019, the trial scheduled for April 17, 2023.

According to Sarpy County authorities, the 15-and-16-year-old friends, all from Gretna High School, were killed in a crash that involved alcohol and speeds hitting 90 miles an hour, in a 55 mile an hour zone.

Earlier this year News Channel Nebraska reported the judge in the case ruled that a potentially damaging and expensive lawsuit filed by the girls' families can move forward.

The judge denying requests from the Ford Motor Company, a guardrail firm, and Sarpy County that the case be thrown out.

The judge siding with the teens’ families, who claim all three had a hand in the crash, ruling that their initial complaint is sufficient to at least claim “negligent infliction of emotional distress.”

In the legal crosshairs, a stretch of 180th Street near Platteview Road.

The families specifically accusing Sarpy County of creating a “defective” road with poor construction and maintenance, failing to “properly warn” drivers of the dangers and failing to prevent or mitigate other crashes.

The county’s actions said to be “negligent, reckless and or willful.”

At the same time, to this day, investigators remain frustrated that no one has ever stepped forward and said where the alcohol came from.

A News Channel Nebraska exclusive investigation has revealed several bumps in the road on all sides of the dispute.

We filed this report in late 2021:

[See, as well, our video report above, script below]

It’s been nearly two years since a deadly crash into a guardrail on this somewhat lonely road south of Omaha.

Authorities blame the wreck, which left four of these 15-and-16-year-old Gretna teens dead, on alcohol and speed, over 90 miles an hour.

According to investigators the driver 16-year-old Abigail Barth was legally drunk, her blood alcohol level point-zero-nine. We’re told the lone survivor, 15-year-old Roan Brandon, had also been drinking, her blood alcohol point-zero five.

One year ago, the families of the dead girls laid the legal groundwork for a lawsuit against Sarpy County.

According to this legal notice, the county was lax when it comes to keeping this stretch of Platteview Road safe.

The county specifically accused of “defective” road and guardrail design, construction and maintenance and failing to “properly warn” drivers of the dangers here and failing to prevent or mitigate other crashes.

The county’s actions said to be “negligent, reckless and or willful.”

But were they?

A News Channel Nebraska investigation has discovered that in the two-and-a half years before the deadly accident here there were a handful of other accidents on a two-mile stretch of Platteview Road either side of 180th street. But according to state records, not one of those accidents was caused by a badly designed road.

In January 2017 a car was totaled after the driver lost control on “ice/snow” and rammed a telephone poll.

October 2018: Again, a “snowy slippery road” sent the driver into a field, then a creek, the car totaled.

November 2018: Another car totaled when the driver, lead-footing at over 100 miles an hour and “taking a picture of the speedometer,” lost control and rolled several times.

The fourth and final wreck December 2019, six months after the Gretna crash, another driver loses control this time on “black ice” and veers off the road.

According to state records and law enforcement, the only other deadly crash at 180th and Platteview Road in somewhat recent memory was 15 years ago, three days after Christmas in 2006 when this car veered right then left before hitting “a tree” and going “over a ditch.” The state accident report adds, “The speed of the vehicle…101 mph prior to the crash.”

Again, none of these state accident reports say anything about design, construction, or upkeep problems on Platteview Road.

But according to a lawsuit filed in Sarpy County, the county—based largely on this study— is to blame for the Gretna girls’ deadly crash.

The 2016 report says near “180th street there are several crests and sag curves that are designed for speeds of less than 40 miles per hour.”

In the end the Gretna lawsuit will likely be a fight between a potentially bad road and questionable driving decisions.