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Family of elderly driver in wrong-way crash says he suffered from dementia

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MORTON (HOI) - 79-year-old Wilburn Cole of Keokuk, Iowa was driving the wrong way on Interstate 155 outside of Morton when he struck another vehicle head-on and was killed. It happened Friday, February 7th. The driver of the other vehicle, a 20-year-old new mother, is in the hospital in serious condition.

Now, a family member of the deceased said he was suffering from dementia and should not have been behind the wheel to begin with. Oliver Kah with the Alzheimer's Association Peoria Branch said driving can be an explosive issue between patients and families.

""Sometimes some people give it up easily, and sometimes it is hard because it's taking away somebody's independence," he explained.

Neurological Physician Julia Biernot said "In general patients will not recognize there is a need to stop driving. Some do and some will say that it's time to stop..physicians may report to the DMV, it's not mandated but it can be done if safety is a concern."

In Cole's home state of Iowa, any person can request an individual be re-examined for fitness to drive. In Illinois, a medical Physician must file a recommendation the Secretary of State's Office in order for a driver's license to be revoked.

Friday, we will be airing a deep-dive into what families and loved ones can do for elderly who may be suffering from dementia, including what the Secretary of State's Office is doing to ensure unsafe drivers are kept off the roads.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

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