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April 1, 2015

Sometimes accidents are so bizarre that they defy explanations. They are just random. For a Missouri couple, that is what happened during a March 12 accident.

Phil and Judith Rutkowski were an ordinary couple. They were semi-retired and lived in Missouri. During the long, dark Missouri winters, they spent time in Florida. Phil worked as a truck driver. Judy was a registered nurse.

66-year-old Phil was driving their GMC SUV eastbound on Interstate 4. They had just finished dinner at a local restaurant and were returning to RV park where they were staying. Phil was known as a cautious driver from his years on the road as a truck driver and was following the laws as he drove his 69-year-old wife home.

At the same time, Timothy Engels, 44, was driving a Chevrolet pick-up westbound on Interstate 4. He was traveling with a passenger, 29-year-old Jason Regan around 9:25 p.m. For some unknown reason, Engels lost control of the Chevrolet. The vehicle headed outside the lane, and Engels pulled the vehicle hard in the opposite direction. That sent the vehicle careening off the side of the road. He hit the center medium. The vehicle was launched into the air. It landed on top of the Rutkowski’s SUV, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

Emergency personnel were dispatched to the scene and had to extract Phil and Judith from the mangled SUV. Judith was given medical attention and transported to Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach. She later died from her injuries. Phil was pronounced dead at the scene.

Engels and Regan were both rushed to Halifax Health Medical Center. Both were not wearing seat belts at the time of the accident. They were both listed in critical condition but were expected to recover from their injuries.

The accident is still under investigation. It’s unclear if the Florida Highway Patrol would file charges in the case. The accident is bizarre, and it was not clear if Engels acted negligently during the accident.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a Florida car accident, contact the Law Offices of James O. Cunningham, P.A. immediately at 888-FLA-AUTO (888-352-2886) for a free initial consultation.

James O. Cunningham

Since 1977, personal injury lawyer James Cunningham has provided effective legal advocacy to people who are injured through the negligent actions of another person or entity throughout the Central Florida area. He fights to obtain recoveries for his clients’ physical and emotional pain and suffering and pursues his clients’ personal injury cases with a commitment to excellence and impeccable preparation.

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