2 people, police dog killed after stolen cruiser crashes vehicle into train in Nebraska

The suspect is among the dead after a series of high-speed chases in Nebraska.
The suspect is among the dead after a series of high-speed chases in Nebraska.(Source: Gray News)
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 12:08 PM CST
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YORK, Neb. (KSNB/Gray News) - A bystander and a police K9 were killed after authorities said a man took a police cruiser and eventually ended up knocking another vehicle into a train.

The suspect also died in the crash, the York County Sheriff Department said.

The sheriff’s office identified one victim as Kyle Ediger. The Nebraska School Activities Association director identified Ediger as a teacher and boy’s basketball coach at Hampton Public schools.

According to authorities, a deputy tried to conduct a traffic stop around 11 p.m. on a 2008 silver Ford F-150 that was driving erratically, KSNB reported.

A pursuit ensued at speeds in excess of 100 mph and continued for about eight minutes before the suspect halted.

The sheriff’s office said the suspect then got out of the vehicle, concealed his hands and told officers he wanted to die. The suspect was not responding to officer’s commands.

He moved toward the officers and took over the marked patrol canine unit, authorities said.

Once the suspect gained control of the police cruiser, another chase began, with authorities saying the suspect was driving fast through York County and into the city of York.

Police said the stolen patrol vehicle stopped on the railroad tracks. The male suspect got out of the vehicle and was standing outside of the vehicle as a train was approaching.

Deputies said they approached him to try to regain control of the patrol vehicle and save the dog.

The sheriff’s office said as officers attempted to approach the suspect, he got back in the patrol vehicle and proceeded northbound, with the train blocking officers from the stolen cruiser.

The suspect then took off, turned around and headed back toward the train at a high rate of speed, striking the back of a vehicle driven by Ediger that was waiting at the crossing and pushing that vehicle into the train.

The suspect, Ediger and the K9 officer named Nitro were killed instantly.

Sheriff Paul Vrbka says that he and his deputies were upset following the tragedy. He noted Nitro’s handler was personally dealing with the loss of his partner.

“I’m worried about the handler of the dog,” said. “He went home early last night and he was shook up, I mean, that’s his shift partner that he works with and it’s just like anybody that has a dog, you bond with that animal.”

The sheriff identified the suspect who drove the stolen cruiser as 43-year-old Joseph Stoltenberg.

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