Public Safety

Iowa City man faces murder charge in fatal wrong-way crash on I-80

He was trying to kill himself, authorities said, but killed another man

Stephen D. Lucore
Stephen D. Lucore

IOWA CITY — An Iowa City man accused of intentionally diving the wrong way on Interstate 80 to kill himself — but killing a man from Texas instead — now faces an additional charge of first-degree murder.

Stephen D. Lucore, 32, about 9:30 p.m. June 16 drove his Hyundai Sonata the wrong way on I-80 and caused a head-on collision with a Honda Pilot driven by David Sawyer, 31, of Frisco, Texas, according to a criminal complaint. Sawyer’s passenger, Robert Sawyer, 64, of Nocona, Texas, died in the crash.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Chad Kepros approved amended charges filed Monday by Johnson County prosecutors. They add first-degree murder and four counts of willful injury, along with original counts of homicide by vehicle and serious injury by vehicle.

The complaint shows Lucore caused serious or bodily injury to David Sawyer and to others in Sawyer’s sport utility vehicle — Luz Mercedes Cuevas Gallardo, 58, “D.S.” and “L.S.” as they are identified in the complaint.

Lucore was driving without headlights on the darkened interstate when he crashed between Tiffin and Oxford, authorities said. He said he was trying to kill himself by driving the wrong way, according to criminal complaints.

Lucore was driving 80 mph at the time of the crash and was not wearing a seat belt, an Iowa State Patrol report showed.

At the time of the crash, Lucore was on probation for domestic abuse. He is accused of sitting on a woman while attempting to strangle her in August 2017, according to a criminal complaint. The woman told police he also covered her mouth and nose to prevent her from breathing.

Lucore was sentenced to two years of probation and received a deferred judgment in that case.


A probation revocation hearing is set for Nov. 18. Probation officials have recommended his probation be revoked and that he serve two years in prison, according to court documents.

Lucore remains in jail on a $1 million bail. His arraignment is scheduled for next Friday.

If convicted of first-degree murder, he faces life in prison without parole.

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