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Twin Cities college student dies in crash on way to see eclipse in Nebraska

Joan Ocampo-Yambing

Hundreds packed a Monday night vigil for a Creighton University student from Rosemount, Minn., who was killed while traveling to see the eclipse in Nebraska.

Joan Ocampo-Yambing was killed Monday, Aug. 21, when the car she was riding in was struck from behind by a semi truck, according to Omaha, Neb., police. She was a 19-year-old sophomore computer science major at the Catholic university in Omaha.

Her friends told WOWT-TV in Omaha that Ocampo-Yambing was traveling with a group to Lincoln, Neb., to watch the solar eclipse. Three other Creighton students in the car were transported to Omaha hospitals to be treated for injuries ranging from serious to critical.

According to Omaha police, the semi driver was heading west on Interstate 80 on the western edge of the city when he failed to notice traffic had begun to "slow significantly." The semi rammed into the back of the 2013 Toyota Prius that Ocampo-Yambing was a backseat passenger in just before 10 a.m.

The semi then smashed into another car and pushed it into the rear of another semi.

In all, four vehicles were involved, five people were injured, and Ocampo-Yambing was killed, according to a statement by Omaha police. Ocampo-Yambing was the only Minnesotan involved in the crash, which remains under investigation.

After news of the crash spread, a vigil was held at Creighton's St. John's Catholic Church. About 800 people attended, according to school officials.

Just a week before her death, Ocampo-Yambing published a book of poetry, "Roots of a Wildflower: A Collection of Poems through the Teenage Years," according to a statement by Creighton. She was active in Campus Ministry and was a Dean's Fellow in the College of Arts and Sciences.

"Joan Ocampo-Yambing was a beautiful, gentle soul," HollyAnn Harris, associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and an adviser to Ocampo-Yambing, said in the statement. "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."

Kim Budde, assistant principal at Rosemount High School, said Tuesday that Ocampo-Yambing "had this powerful force and loved life and loved people and thrived being around people whether she knew them or not."

She was active in many school activities and programs, including several choirs, musical theater, the student council and National Honor Society, Budde said.

"She was such a great student and great kid and just the most loving, happy person," she said.

Ocampo-Yambing's brother will be a senior at the high school this year, she said.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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