On Saturday night, 69-year-old Jim Menges was driving home on S.R. 23 – just as he’d done hundreds of times before.
He was heading home to his wife of more than 40 years.
“He said he’d be home in 35 minutes from his location,” said Terrie Menges. “After 45 minutes, that wasn’t like him and I went looking for him. At that time I knew something was wrong.”
This time, Jim didn’t make it home.
He was driving on S.R. 23 near New Road in North Liberty, when 34-year-old Jeremy Lawton crossed the center line and hit Menges head-on as he was attempting to pass another car.
“When they collided, there was a huge fire ball and he flipped over several times,” said Jeremy Lassoon, who Lawton passed. “It looked like something out of a movie.”
Neighbors rushed outside to help. They tried to extinguish the flames on Lawton’s car, but there was nothing to do to help Jim.
“You always wish there is something more you could have done,” said Larry Fair, who lives near the scene of the crash. “But there wasn’t.”
So on Saturday night, Terrie lost her best friend.
“I would call him the perfect role model for a husband but also for a father,” she said.
As her family tries to cope with the tragedy, police are waiting to find out if alcohol played a role in the crash.
Lawton’s driving record reveals a history of driving under the influence.
“For those who are driving under the influence of anything at all, if only they could realize the damage they do to so many people. My family is devastated, but I’m thinking so is his,” she said.
While Terrie wishes last night’s outcome could be changed, she does take comfort in one thing.
“The last conversation between us said I love you.”