FGCU student killed in Lee County wreck

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SOUTH FORT MYERS, Fla. — One person is dead after a crash that blocked northbound Michael G. Rippe Parkway all afternoon, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Ryan Wendler, 20

Gainesville resident Ryan Wendler, 20, was the man killed in the wreck, according to FHP. The wreck took place near the intersection with Briarcliff Road shortly after noon, according to the Lee County Department of Public Safety. A dump truck rear-ended the Nissan that Wendler was driving, pushing it into bushes nearby, according to FHP.

Wendler was a student at Florida Gulf Coast University and employee at Moe’s Southwest Grill. His coworkers held a small vigil to remember him, while his mother spoke about her son’s community involvement. FGCU offered grief counseling to those students in need Wednesday.moes-vigil-wink-news

“He was an Eagle Scout,” said Carol Wendler, Ryan’s mother. “He was studying Sociology at FCGU. He was on the Quiddich team and enjoyed E-Sports. He played lacrosse in high school. He just started volunteering at the local soup kitchen and was doing Meals on Wheels for the first time Saturday. I’m sure there’s more. He was just a great person. Loved his dogs. Loved camping and hiking. The world lost a beautiful light.”

Ryan Wendler was stopped at a red light when the truck hit him, FHP said. Investigators are looking into whether speed was a factor in the crash that claimed Wendler’s life.

“This was obviously a massive impact of a crash,” FHP Lt. Greg Bueno said. “However, you have a large disparity between the sizes of the vehicles so you have a lot of factors we have to get involved.”

The driver of the dump truck, 75-year-old Cape Coral resident Donald Kottkamp, was carrying steel for Fort Myers-based Allied Recycling. He could face charges depending on the outcome of the investigation, Bueno said.

It’s not the first time Kottkamp has been in a deadly wreck. He reached a settlement in a lawsuit stemming from his involvement in a fatal 2001 crash in Pennsylvania.

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