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Lawsuit filed against Cedar Rapids school district, driver in car-pedestrian crash

Driver was never cited in October 2015 collision

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids woman whose son was hit by a vehicle last October outside of Erskine Elementary School is suing the driver and the Cedar Rapids Community School District.

However, the driver, 41-year-old Robert E. Ortiz, of Palo, was never cited for the collision.

The crash happened on Oct. 8, 2015, in the 700 block of 36th Street SE. Cedar Rapids public safety spokesman Greg Buelow said Ortiz was southbound on 36th Street around 3:50 p.m. when a juvenile pedestrian — identified in the lawsuit as 6-year-old Maddox Tuetken — ran out into the street from behind a legally parked, full-sized van and was struck by Ortiz’s car. The boy was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center.

Buelow said the boy’s father, Christopher Tuetken, told police his son darted out into the street to go to his mother’s home and did not look both ways before crossing. Another witness told police they saw the same thing. As a result, Ortiz was not cited in the collision.

But a lawsuit filed last month by Jennifer Sills, Maddox’ mother, claims that Ortiz was not watching where he was driving.

“Rather than immediately stopping, Defendant Robert Edward Ortiz continued to drive, dragging Plaintiff Maddox Tuetken,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims Maddox was seriously injured as a result of the crash and Ortiz’ negligence.

A phone number for Ortiz could not be found and he could not be reached for comment.

The lawsuit states the Cedar Rapids Community School District is also negligent for failing to “exercise reasonable care to protect students from the obvious risks of danger associated with school letting out.”

The school district referred questions to attorney Mike Weston with Lederer, Weston and Craig. Weston was out of the office on Thursday and could not be reached for comment.

Sills, in addition to making the claim as Maddox’ mother, is also seeking damages as a bystander to the collision. The lawsuit states Sills experienced “serious and significant emotional distress” as a result of witnessing the collision and believing her son could be seriously injured or killed.

Sills is seeking unspecified damages.

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