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Taco Bell sign falls, kills woman - UPDATEDTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
The sign, with the 15-foot tall purple stub standing behind it.
(click to enlarge)
Photo by Lori Mendenhall
A view of the smashed truck.
Photo by 

A Chambers Nebraska woman was killed Friday afternoon in North Platte after a 75-foot Taco Bell sign fell on top of the pickup she and her husband were in.

Diana Durre, 49, died at the scene before paramedics arrived. Her husband, Mark Durre, also 49, suffered some bruises and was to undergo surgery on a broken finger at Great Plains Regional Medical Center.

The pickup was parked in the rear parking lot of a Conoco service station/Taco Bell restaurant at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Hwy. 83.

The pole broke at a welded joint about 15-feet above the ground due to strong winds.

The sign fell right on top of the couple’s quad-cab pickup.

The tragedy occurred about 12:30 p.m.

Chief Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Todd Engleman said the husband was conscious when taken to Great Plains Regional Medical Center. His wife maintained consciousness for a while, Engleman said, but died before the ambulances arrived.

Their names are not yet released, pending notification of other family members. The pickup was registered to a company in Iowa, officials said.

The couple, who had Nebraska driver’s licenses, were meeting a Wyoming couple to sell them some dogs, according to officials.

The dogs were in the back seat and were uninjured, Engleman said. They were taken to the North Platte Animal Shelter. They consisted of a female Yorkie and a male Norich Terrier.

Animal control officer John Pettit said a veterinarian checked the dogs and they checked out fine. He said the shelter would keep the dogs until family members decided what to do with them.

Officials said the couples agreed to meet in North Platte about 1 p.m., “right underneath the big Taco Bell sign.”

“It was a one-in a million freak accident,” Engleman said.

The National Weather Center Office in North Platte recorded wind speeds of 30-35 miles an hour at the time at the North Platte Regional Airport, with an occasional gust of 40 miles an hour.

Signs of that size are generally engineered to withstand straight line winds of up to 110 mph, according to Sharon Neglay of Custom Craft Sign Company. She said that flexible faced signs are engineered to bend and flex with increased winds.

Brandon Meyers of the North Platte police said the investigation into the accident was continuing late Friday afternoon.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/4/2009
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