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Lawsuit filed against City of Bettendorf after I-74 bridge pedestrian path crash deaths

The suit alleges that the city was negligent in its opening of the bridge's pedestrian path by failing to construct barriers to stop cars from driving on it.

BETTENDORF, Iowa — A lawsuit filed against the City of Bettendorf says the City could have done more to prevent a woman from driving onto the newly-opened Interstate 74 Bridge bike path and killing two men last month.

The suit claims the City was negligent, willful and wanton in its design of and decision to open the pedestrian and bike path without protective barriers in place. It was filed in the Northern District of Illinois Western Division by Chicago attorney Devon C. Bruce of the firm Power Rogers, LLP.

The bike path opened to the public at the end of April and officially opened on May 18 following a ribbon-cutting ceremony. 

The lawsuit says Bettendorf city officials pushed to open the path despite the Iowa Department of Transportation's preference to delay the opening.

Four days later, an alleged drunk driver traveled onto the path and struck three pedestrians, resulting in the deaths of two men: 21-year-old Ethan Lee Gonzalez and 18-year-old Anthony Castaneda; the latter of which is named in the suit.

After the incident, the Iowa Department of Transportation installed signs and temporary barriers on the 14-foot-wide path to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“This is a tragic and very preventable occurrence which has caused the death of two young individuals and caused serious injuries to another," Bruce said in a press release. "This should never have been allowed to happen”

Devon C. Bruce is an attorney familiar with the Quad City area, having worked on cases like the City of Dixon's suit against former comptroller Rita Crundwell for embezzlement and an injury suit in Rock Island after a tree limb fell on a family on the County Courthouse lawn in 2020.

WQAD reached out to the City of Bettendorf for a response and received a reply, saying "...the City of Bettendorf has not been served or seen the lawsuit.  At this time, the City will not comment on open litigations."

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