Skip to Content

Tremont woman recovering after being hit by wrong-way driver, his family says he had dementia

Remaining Ad Time Ad - 00:00

On February 7th the parents of a Tremont woman learned their daughter was involved in a horrible accident outside Morton in the worst way possible, they drove right up to it.

Then, more heartache.

They learned the driver who hit her head-on had dementia, leaving them wondering why he was behind the wheel.

The injuries 20 year old Emma Voss received affect more than just her. She's also a new mom.

Instead of spending her Valentine's Day at home cuddling her 9 month old daughter, she's in a hospital bed.

She was hit on I-155 by a wrong-way driver, 79 year old Wilburn Cole, who died at the scene.

His family confirms he had dementia, noting they'd tried to get his license revoked but were unsuccessful.
Unfortunately, experts say cases like these serve as a reminder why families sometimes need to take things a step further.

"If somebody doesn't want to give up driving, you can take away the car, the keys, which might not be easy. This is about safety, the safety of your loved one and the safety of other people," explains Olivier Kah with the Alzheimer's Association of Peoria.

Health professionals advise trying to avoid fighting with a loved one. Instead, have the conversation when they're receptive and in a good mood. And if all else fails, get their doctor involved.

"Physicians may report to the DMV, it's not mandated but it can be done if safety is a concern," shares Julia Biernot, Ph.D., a Neurological Physician with OSF.

And, if your loved one doesn't recognize there's a problem, there is a tool that can help. It's a driving simulator at the OSF Rehabilitation Center in Peoria.

"We'll do a physical screening, check their upper and lower extremities and make sure they have strength and coordination to be safe. Then we'll look at cognitive, visual, perceptual skills they need to drive," outlines Occupational Therapist Ginny Roehm.

Admittedly, these are still tough conversations to have. But, they're steps that could have possibly saved Cole's life and spared Voss and her family.

She remains in critical condition, trying to recover from multiple injuries including two broken femurs, a lacerated lung, and two strokes from all the trauma.

A gofundme has been set up to help Voss' family. They say they've been overwhelmed by an outpouring of support.

Cole was from Keokuk, Iowa, and his family says they have no idea how he ended up outside Morton.

Caitlin Knute

Skip to content