The Nebraska State Patrol says the Sunday crash that killed Jamison and Kathryne Pals and their three young children happened in a construction zone on Interstate 80 a few miles west of the town of Brule.
Traffic had slowed in the construction zone but troopers say a semi driven by Tony Weekly struck the Pals family's minivan with enough force that the three vehicles ahead of it were also hit. The minivan and semi both burst into flames, the State Patrol says.
Weekly, 53, was treated for injuries at a hospital and released before being arrested, the Patrol says.
According to the World-Herald, a trooper wrote in an arrest affidavit that Weekly was "inattentive and distracted by outside influences" and did not slow down until he hit the Pals' minivan.
The State Patrol announced Tuesday that another person involved in the crash has died. Terry Sullivan, 56, of Denver was in a minivan in front of the one driven by the Pals, the Patrol says.
Weekly, who lives in Baker, Florida, is being held in the Keith County Jail on $1 million bail. He's also charged with reckless driving.
The three children of Jamison and Kathryne Pals were Ezra (3 yrs), Violet (23 mos), and Calvin (2 ½ mos). The parents, both 29, were Christian missionaries working with the group WorldVenture. They were headed to Colorado for training before a deployment to Nagoya, Japan, WorldVenture said in a statement.
The church they attended, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, also issued a statement mourning the loss of the Pals family.
In anticipation of their upcoming move, Jamison and Kathryne were maintaining a blog called "For the Joy of Japan."
Their last entry was about their children and included several photos.
They reported that Calvin's weight was up to 14 pounds; that Violet loved babies and could normally be found talking on a cell phone to her grandma and grandpa; and that Ezra was learning to swim and wanted to know if Japan was a short or long drive from his grandparents' house.
WCCO reports a funeral service for the Pals family will be held at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. with a visitation beginning at 9:30 a.m.