Two lawsuits have been filed against a tractor-trailer driver involved in a crash last year on Interstate Highway 35 south of Ames that killed a couple from Van Meter and seriously injured another person.
It was around 1:45 pm Sept. 7, 2021, when a tractor-trailer driven by Matthew Rewitzer, 33, of Eagle Bend, Minnesota, crashed into the back of another semi, according to the Iowa State Patrol. A chain reaction involving a van, a pickup truck and another semi followed.
Gordon Martens, 81, was driving the pickup with his wife Jill Martens, 79, as they headed home from their cabin in Clear Lake. Both were killed in the crash. A 35-year-old Clear Lake man driving the van was seriously injured, according to the crash report.
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Both suits, one filed by the Martenses’ estate and another by the man from Clear Lake, were filed in April and name Rewitzer and Ramler Trucking Co., the Minnesota-based trucking company he was hauling cargo for at the time of the crash, as defendants.
“The conduct of defendants … constituted willful, malicious, wanton, reckless and gross disregard for the safety, welfare and interests of Gordon and Jill Martens and all persons lawfully traveling on the highways and roads of the state of Iowa,” the Martenses ‘ suit said.
Daniel Martens, the son of Gordon and Jill Martens, declined to comment through an attorney because the litigation is pending. The couple raised two children, had eight grandchildren and would have celebrated their 58th anniversary about six after the crash.
Rewitzer was involved in two similar rear-end crashes in Wisconsin and Minnesota in the 18 months before the crash, according to a Des Moines Register investigation.
Rewitzer’s driver’s license and commercial driver’s licenses were valid at the time of the Iowa crash. No criminal charges have been filed.
The Martenses’ suit seeks punitive damages to deter people from committing similar acts. The Clear Lake man, who sustained and sustained injuries, according to the severe lawsuit, permanent asks for damages to compensate his family for his injuries and because he cannot work now.
Philip Joens covers public safety, city government and RAGBRAI for the Des Moines Register. He can be reached at 515-443-3347 at email@example.com or on Twitter @Philip_Joens.