People who knew the Gollnow family described them as warm and caring people. Often known for caring for foster children and even elderly people in the community, some people saw the Gollnows as nothing short of saints. But when the family, 62-year-old James and his wife Barbara, their 18-year-old daughter, the couple’s four foster children and a 92-year-old family friend were involved in a serious car accident in March, everything changed for loved ones and the community.

According to police, the fatal accident occurred when the family’s car was struck from behind by a commercial vehicle from Michigan. After looking at the driving logs and noticing that there were several alterations to the records, police concluded that the driver had been severely fatigued at the time of the accident which result in the deaths of all but two of the foster children in the vehicle.

A wrongful death lawsuit has now been filed in a U.S. District Court in Kentucky on behalf of the four Gollnow family members who lost their lives in the tragic accident. The accident, which took place in the state of Kentucky while the family was travelling from Florida back to their home in Pella, was a direct result of negligent driving, says one of the plaintiff’s attorneys. As the attorney explains in the suit, the driver failed to comply with driving regulations and knowingly falsified or altered driving records so as to appear as if he had not been awake for as long as he had.

The lawsuit hopes to hold the driver of the tractor-trailer as well the trucking company responsible for allowing such an accident to occur in the first place. The attorneys are seeking compensatory and punitive damages in hopes of providing a sense of justice for the family in the end.


The Courier-Journal, “Wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of 4 Wisconsin residents killed in I-65 crash,” Jason Riley, April 17, 2013

The Shawano Leader, “Marion area mourns family tragedy,” Lee Pulaski and the Associated Press, March 5, 2013