Johnson County: I read about this accident in Johnson County and after doing some online investigation was left asking this question: Is this an “accident” and if so who is legally responsible? This one has a twist to the facts and some of the more interesting facts are not obvious from this most recent story. You see, there is an earlier story involving what appears to be the same man, the same driver and an eerily similar sequence of events. Of course you will want to do more research before drawing any firm conclusions.

After reading the earlier news stories I'm questioning whether other parties could be liable based on foreseeability. There is a theory of liability appropriately named "negligent entrustment" and the legal principles should be reviewed before formulating the final theory of liability. Should this man have even had a driver's license? Was the car his own or did it belong to someone else? The nature of the previous collision raises legitimate questions about how this most recent accident was caused. Was it a foregone conclusion?

Who owned the car and did he have a driver's license?

Accident #1: What happened? This two-car accident involved multiple injured passengers (which usually means you don’t have enough insurance coverage to go around) involved a 2007 Buick driven by Wilbur Dennis Bigler of West Union, Iowa and Jeffrey S. Bertucci of Muskegon, Michigan. Bertucci was driving a Buick also. Bigler died, as did Madison Hubert, 18 from Evergreen, Colorado. The injured were Jeffrey Bertucci, 46, Camden Bertucci (16), Colin Bertucci (20) and Sherri Ann Bertucci (44) all from Michigan. The date of the collision is March 23, 2013 at 2056 or 8:56 pm. The location was on Highway 1, two miles north of Solon near 120th Street in Johnson County.

Did you know that in Iowa so long as a doctor writes a script for prescription medication, you can legally drive while intoxicated by prescription medications? 

According to the accident description the trooper has vehicle one [Wilbur Bigler] losing control and then crossing the center line where he’s broadsided by the Bertucci vehicle. [See the full description below.] When they say the accident remains under investigation that usually means the final report will be filed after toxicology reports are provided by the DCI's lab, meaning blood-alcohol-drug contents determined.

News stories are below the quote and include interesting details.

“Hubert and Colin Bertucci were a freshman and sophomore, respectively, at Cornell College, according to Cornell College Spokesman Jamie Kelly.” Press-Citizen Reporting by Luke Voelz

EARLIER REPORT OF A FEBRUARY 11, 2013 JACKSON COUNTY CRASH

What I find of interest is an earlier accident report from February 11, 2013 in Jackson County. A Wilbur Dennis Bigler of West Union was involved in an accident at the intersection of Highway 64 and Jacobsen Drive in Maquoketa, Iowa. [Law Enforcement Case No. 2013008132] The other driver was Michael D. Peters of Springbrook, Iowa. These may be two different men with the same name, but then again... Here is the description from the Feb. 11, 2013 collision:

VEHICLE 1 WAS WESTBOUND ON HWY 64 AND WAS FAILING TO YIELD TO A DEPUTY WHO HAD EMERGENCY LIGHTS ACTIVATED. DEPUTY PETERS WAS WAITING FOR VEHICLE 1 AT MAQUOKETA IN ORDER TO PREVENT IT FROM COMING INTO TOWN. AS VEHICLE 1 APPROACHED VEHICLE 2, VEHICLE 2 PULLED IN FRONT OF IT MAKING CONTACT AND FORCING IT TO A STOP. DRIVER OF VEHICLE 1 HAS A PAST HISTORY OF MEDICAL PROBLEMS IN RELATION TO MENTAL ISSUES AND HAD CORRESPONDING MEDICATION ON HIS PERSON AND FOUND BY MEDICAL PERSONNEL AT HOSPITAL.

Here is the most recent accident description: 

VEH 1 BELIEVED TO SOUTH BOUND LOST CONTROL, CROSSED CENTER LINE AND VEH 2 BROADSIDED VEH 1 ON PASSENGER SIDE, 1 PERSON WAS IN VEH 1 AND 5 PEOPLE IN VEH 2, ACCIDENT REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION.

What was going on with this man and why did he cross the center line of the highway in Iowa? Why in February did the deputy need to block him from coming into town? What's going on here and are the two incidents related? 

Other news stories about this accident:

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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