Mother of accident victim reaches out to other families in crash

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Diane Rollins celebrated two birthdays of sorts for her son, John Veader.

The first was the celebration of his birth Nov. 11, 1975 in Birkenfeld, Germany.

The second was the celebration of Veader's awakening from a two-month coma Oct. 18, 1993, after an automobile accident at Overland and Cochise streets where he "died" and was revived by paramedics.

But Oct. 18, 2002, brought no such celebration.

Veader, 26, along with two women -- Jessica Ann Gomes, 45 and Michelle Campbell, 39, both of Gardnerville -- died that day in a three-car pileup at 3:30 p.m. on Highway 395 near Mica Drive in Minden.

"The first accident also happened on a Friday at 3:30 p.m. This was my second nightmare," she said.

A preliminary investigation by the Nevada Highway Patrol shows the crash occurred when Veader, who was heading home to Mound House after work, swerved across the median and launched off the dirt embankment. Veader's truck came down on a 2002 Audi driven by Campbell and then was hit by a 1999 Buick sedan driven by Gomes. The women died at the crash scene.

A Care Flight helicopter took Veader to Washoe Medical Center. He died a short time later.

Rollins is at a loss for why the accident happened. The Highway Patrol is awaiting alcohol screening results hoping something there will explain what caused Veader's truck to cross a 30-foot dirt embankment into oncoming traffic. For now, no one knows why.

"John had mentioned to his boss that morning when he got to work that his steering was locking up and pulling to the left and if he pumped the brakes a couple times it would release," Rollins said. "He just had work done in February and March on the steering and brakes."

Highway Patrol Trooper Pat McGill said an investigation of the truck was unable to determine if there were mechanical problems.

"There was nothing left of the truck," he said.

Rollins is hoping once the truck is released, the family can take it to a mechanic and figure out what went wrong,

She said the idea of her son being drunk or drinking at that time has been dispelled.

"The investigators have talked with the people from his work and they said he drank nothing but water all day," she said.

Shrouded in grief, Rollins said she felt the need to reach out to the families of the other victims.

"My son is dead so I know how the other families feel. I feel so bad for them. I need them to know that I care," she said. "John was such a good, kind-hearted person. He would hate to know that he injured somebody and because of his truck there are two other people dead -- there are two other families grieving.

"I don't want them to think that I don't care. I don't want them to think I'm afraid to talk to them because they want to blame John. I can understand that."

Veader graduated from Carson High School in 1994. He married Keri Hill on Nov. 27, 1999.

Rollins said her son was baptized in 1991 by Pastor Marvin Dennis at Good Shepherd Weslyan Church.

"My son was a gentle young man. He was very devoted to his family and friends," she said. "I have a firm belief God felt he needed John more up there than he did here. I'll see him again someday," she said.

For the other families, Rollins offered an apology.

"I feel your pain and sorrow. I am truly sorry for your loss," she said.


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