Out of their sleep, the Bromberger family woke up to a terrifying scene.
“I looked out the back porch. Saw what the situation was. Went and grabbed the three fire extinguishers we have,” Jeff Bromberger says.
At first, the homeowner says he had no idea a car was even there because all he could see was flames engulfing his tree.
“It was definitely growing quickly and there were small explosions,” he says.
According to Omaha police, first responders received a call at 1:40 a.m. Monday to investigate single-car collision. The driver of a silver 2004 Chevrolet Monte Carlo hit a tree "head on” in the yard belonging to the Brombergers near 114th and Frances streets.
Markings done by OPD investigators indicate the driver hit a residential mail box while traveling eastbound on Frances Street, driving onto a lawn, crossing 114th Street and landing into Brombergers’ yard where the driver hit a large tree and caught on fire.
Investigators believe the driver collided with several mailboxes, a parked pickup truck and drove off the streets multiple times, before winding up on the Brombergers’ property.
While Bromberger fought the flames, his wife called 911 and officers responded quickly followed by Omaha Fire and Rescue, he says.
“The fire extinguisher that we had was basically doing nothing,” Bromberger says. “If it weren't for the truck, it was going to continue to burn.”
Crews put the fire out, however police say the driver died on scene.
For the west Omaha resident, he says his family has not had time to reflect on what happened.
“A lot of things you prepare for – a burglar, a fire in your home, or something like that – certainly you don't ever anticipate a sequence like this,” he says.
Omaha Police later identified the man as 31-year-old Blake Ridenour.