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Public Safety

Children killed in I-80 crash were returning from birthday party

Two families lose sons in tragic collision

Iowa State Patrol vehicle at the rest area on I-80 eastbound in Tiffin on Friday, Sep. 1, 2017. (Gazette file photo)
Iowa State Patrol vehicle at the rest area on I-80 eastbound in Tiffin on Friday, Sep. 1, 2017. (Gazette file photo)

OXFORD — What was supposed to be a weekend of fun ended in fatal tragedy for three Cedar Rapids boys.

Braden Brown, 12, Oneimus Quarterman, 11, and KaDaess Adams, 12, all of Cedar Rapids, were killed Sunday when the sport utility vehicle they were riding in turned in front of a semi near Oxford on Interstate 80, authorities said. Braden Brown’s brother, Mason, 11, and grandfather, Terrance J. Edwards, 62, of Cedar Rapids, were injured. Edwards was driving.

Laura and Steve Brown, Braden and Mason’s parents, said in an interview Monday they spent the weekend at the Wasserbahn Waterpark in Williamsburg, celebrating a cousin’s birthday. Their sons invited Oneimus and KaDaess, two of the boys’ closest friends.

“They’re like brothers,” Laura Brown said.

After spending the night Saturday, the group got up Sunday morning, had breakfast and swam before leaving Williamsburg. Laura and Steve didn’t have room in their Suburban, so the four boys were set to ride back with Edwards.

“They were all loaded up and started leaving,” Steve Brown said. “I yelled at them, ‘Put on your seat belts.’”

The Browns said Edwards forgot a sweatshirt, so he turned the SUV around to retrieve it. While driving back toward Williamsburg, west on Interstate 80, Edwards learned someone already had picked up his sweatshirt. And so he went to turn back around.

Edwards was in the right lane when he decided to use a median crossover and head back east toward Cedar Rapids, authorities said. But when he moved into the left lane, Edwards was struck by a semi headed in the same direction and driven by Slawomir Nowakowki, 52, of Anaheim, Calif. Nowakowki was not injured.

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The Browns said Mason, who is being treated at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, is expected to make a full recovery. Edwards is expected to also.

“He loves his kids,” Laura Brown said of Edwards. “He did everything for them. Braden was his boy.”

The Browns described Braden as a kid loved by everyone who knew him. He was involved with band, choir and baseball. Braden loved video games, Dr Pepper and Panchero’s burritos, his parents said. His father just got a stack of burrito coupons he planned to give the boy.

When he’s back on his feet, Mason likely will find his way to his bicycle, which he rides “everywhere,” his mother said. Mason is into hunting, fishing and baseball.

“He’s sweet when you get to know him, but he’s ornery,” she said.

The Browns said KaDaess and Oneimus, who are brothers, were like family to them.

“Those boys were wonderful kids,” Steve Brown said.

According to a fundraising website started to offset their funeral expenses, Oneimus and KaDaess had “contagious smiles.” Oneimus had a “fierce, determined attitude” and KaDaess possessed a “sensitive, caring soul,” the fundraising page states.

All four boys attended school in the College Community School District.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss and untimely deaths of our three students,” the district said in a statement Monday. “Today has been a very difficult day on our Prairie campus for our students, staff and families.”

Counselors will be on hand this week for students and staff, the district said.

The crash remains under investigation by the Iowa State Patrol.

• Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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