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Colby community remembers man killed in crash during funeral procession for WWII veteran

(Photo Courtesy: Carrie Towns)
(Photo Courtesy: Carrie Towns)(KWCH)
Published: Feb. 29, 2020 at 10:16 PM CST
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Sunday, March 1, 2020

The Colby community is remembering a man whose focus was remembering those who served.

Lennie Riedel, a member of the American Legion Riders, was a part of the funeral procession for World War II veteran Donald Stratton from Colorado to Nebraska.

Riedel died Saturday night (February 29) after he lost control of his motorcycle and was struck by two vehicles in Gove County. Another member of the American Legion Riders, George Overton, was also injured in the crash, but he is recovering.

Members of American Legion Riders said Riedel wasn't a veteran himself, but he cared very deeply about military and veterans issues because of his father who was in the military. So, anytime there was a reason to pay respects or honor a veteran or military member, he was there.

"With some issues that I had, he was always concerned about me and was always there if I needed something and he was that way with anybody," said L. J. O’Neal, club manager.

Riedel joined the post's Sons of the American Legion Riders several years ago and organized the local American Legion Riders.

"I would say it was one of his top priorities. He was involved with everything that we did with veterans. He had just joined our honor guard," said O’Neal. "He will not be forgotten, never."

"I would just want them to remember Lennie as the guy that everyone wanted to be around. The guy that was involved in everything and the guy, if you needed something, you could go to," said Kristie Jacobs, friend.

Funeral services for Riedel are planned for Saturday (March 7).

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Two men are dead after two separate fatal crashes on I-70 in Gove County next Saturday.

Gove County Sheriff Allan Weber said the first crash happened around 7 p.m. near exit 95 at Grainfield and K-23 North.

"For some reason, it got congested a little west of where he was sitting. Right underneath the underpass is where the accident initially started," said Weber.

Lennie Riedel, 65, lost control of his motorcycle and was struck by two vehicles.

Weber said a deputy called for EMS and traffic control within seconds. The fire department was just over a mile away at Exit 93, but Riedel died at the scene.

"I had two firetrucks staged under the overpass to protect the scene we had. Because there were a lot of people on the highway," recalls Weber.

But, he said about 10 minutes after the first crash (around 7:10 p.m.), a vehicle that was not a part of the procession went around the diversion at the west end where traffic was being diverted off the roadway.

The vehicle ran into the back of a parked firetruck and the driver died at the scene. The driver of the firetruck is expected to be okay.

Weber said what happened was unfortunate especially as they were trying to honor a fallen hero.

"We're doing okay. We had a briefing last night at the fire department in Grainfield. We talked about a lot of things. What did we do that we could've done different? We felt like everything we did was, really, pretty on key," said the sheriff.

According to

two motorcycle riders were hurt around 1:40 p.m. in Castle Pines in Colorado on Interstate during the same funeral procession.

9News reports that one motorcycle crashed into another while they were traveling northbound. Both men were hospitalized, one with serious injuries.

Most of the procession continued after the first crash and made it to the destination of Red Cloud, Neb. where Donald Stratton was buried in his hometown cemetery Monday morning.