Family Killed in Fiery Nebraska Crash

Schmidts were moving from Maryland to California

By Pat Collins
|  Thursday, Sep 13, 2012  |  Updated 7:35 PM EDT
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Four members of a Gaithersburg family, including a wife who was seven months pregnant, were killed in a fiery accident in Nebraska. News4's Pat Collins reports.

Pat Collins

Four members of a Gaithersburg family, including a wife who was seven months pregnant, were killed in a fiery accident in Nebraska. News4's Pat Collins reports.

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A Gaithersburg family was killed in a terrible chain-reaction crash in western Nebraska Sunday.

Christopher Schmidt, a 10-year veteran of the Air Force, moved his family to Maryland to take a job with the Department of Energy. After about a year, the family decided to move back to their California roots. Schmidt; his wife, Diana, seven months pregnant with a boy to be named Ethan; their sons Samuel, 3, and Connor, 2; and the family’s two dogs and cat were on their way when tragedy struck on Interstate 80 about 40 miles west of Wyoming.

Diana Schmidt was with the children in a Toyota with Chris following in his Mustang when traffic backed up to a stop, but a tractor-trailer did not stop, slamming into the Mustang, which crushed the Toyota as it pushed it into another 18-wheeler and igniting a fire. The Schmidts didn’t have a chance.

“It’s devastating to lose all five in one moment,” said Diana’s father, Brad Baumann.

Joseph Slezak, the driver of the striking tractor-trailer, was charged with four counts of manslaughter.

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