Sole survivor of car crash remains in hospital
By JENNIFER JACOBS
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
September 25, 2007
A Johnston man who was the only survivor in a carload of friends who crashed into a parked RV on the afternoon of the Iowa-Iowa State football game remains in intensive care, his family said Monday.
Meanwhile, friends are trying to raise money to help cover medical bills for Eric Hartung, who has no health insurance.
State officials have not yet released the results of alcohol testing or the cause of the Sept. 15 crash that killed the driver of the car, Zackry Thomas, 21, of Ottumwa; and three passengers, Gavin Granneman, 29, of Clive; Steven Atchison, 27, of Des Moines; and Karli Manker, 22, of Iowa City.
Hartung, 26, suffered severe chest injuries and is on a respirator and heavily sedated at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, according to a statement Monday by his father, Steve Hartung.
"To begin with, we would like to thank everyone who has had Eric and our family in their thoughts and prayers since the tragic accident that killed four of his friends," he said in his statement.
Steve Hartung said he is pleased with the care his son has received, and Eric Hartung's relatives and friends remain hopeful that he will have a successful recovery.
"The extent of his other injuries and the complications associated with them are still unknown at this time due to the fact that Eric is heavily sedated," Steve Hartung said.
Eric Hartung's four friends were killed when Thomas' car struck a recreational vehicle that was legally parked on the shoulder of Interstate Highway 35 south of Ames.
The RV was experiencing mechanical problems and the occupants - an Urbandale couple and two grandchildren - were waiting for a towing service.
The Iowa State Patrol is awaiting lab results on the blood-alcohol tests, Jessica Lown, a spokeswoman for the Iowa Department of Public Safety, said Monday.
"We're trying to get them as quickly as we can," she said.
Eric Hartung works in the service industry, most recently at a couple of local bars, and does not have health insurance.
He has a number of financial obligations, including his medical care, rent and car payments, that he will not be able to cover at this time, his father said Monday.
The family has filled out paperwork to see if he qualifies for financial assistance, which could include Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor, or help from the hospital that could range from discounts to free care.
An Eric Hartung Benefit Fund has been created at Community State Bank, P.O. Box 127, Ankeny, IA 50021. The fund has just under $4,000 in it already from the sales of $5 orange "TungStrong" bracelets and $15 T-shirts that read "I (heart) Tung."
The bracelets and T-shirts are being sold at Aura, Crush, Drink, Wellman's Pub and Vieux Carre, said Tom Baldwin, an operating member of the companies that own all five bars.
"We are very appreciative to Eric's co-workers and the community for the support they are showing in helping to raise money to help offset these expenses," Steve Hartung said in his statement.