Woman who died in I-29 crash in Iowa taught at IU School of Medicine

LITTLE SIOUX, Iowa — The Knightstown, Indiana, woman among three people who died after a major crash on I-29 southbound on Sunday was a longtime faculty member of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. 

Elizabeth J. Cobbs, 65, died at the scene, according to police. She was in the backseat of a pickup truck in which two other Indiana residents were injured. 

The school issued a statement on the death of the doctor on Tuesday:

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Betty Cobbs, a longtime faculty member in both pediatrics and internal medicine at Indiana University School of Medicine. Dr. Cobbs was passionate about providing excellent care to her patients and was the consummate educator who generously taught residents and medical students for nearly a quarter century. We extend our sincere condolences to her family and friends, and to all those who worked with and learned from her.”

Cobbs was an assistant professor of clinical medicine. Her clinical interests including internal medicine. According to her online biography, she received her bachelor’s degree from Bryn Mawr College in 1976 and her doctoral in medicine from Temple University. She did her residency at the IU School of Medicine beginning in 1994.

Iowa State Police said the crash occurred around 6:15 p.m. Central time Sunday in Harrison County, Iowa, on the west edge of the state about halfway between Sioux City, Iowa, and Omaha, Nebraska. 

According to a preliminary police report, Richard Lee Van Zee, 80, was driving a 2017 Cadillac XTS car north on Interstate 29 when for unknown reasons it went off the left side of the road. The XTS continued through the median and into oncoming traffic of the southbound lanes. 

Van Zee’s car then sideswiped the Chrysler 300 car driven by Saul Escobedo Gonzales, 31, of Des Moines, Iowa. After that, Van Zee’s XTS struck the Ford F450 truck behind Gonzales’ car. 

Van Zee and passenger Mary Ann Van Zee, 77, both of Rock Valley, Iowa, were taken to hospitals, but later died, the police report said. 

The pickup was was driven by Michael E. Gerrish, 60, of Shirley, Indiana. Gerrish and his passenger, Melinda A. Gerrish, 52, of Shirley, Indiana, were injured in the crash. Michael Gerrish was taken by ambulance to Mercy Medical Center-Sioux City. Melinda Gerrish was taken to Burgess Health Center in Onawa, Iowa. No information was immediately available on their conditions following the crash.

Gonzales was not hurt in the crash.

Iowa State Police were continuing to investigate.