Pick-Up Truck Nearly Decapitated in Rig Collision on SR100; Driver, 21, Critical
FlaglerLive | April 20, 2012
The stretch of State Road 100 between County Road 205 and John Campbell Drive is as straight as any road gets in Flagler County, for several miles. That’s not been an indication of its safety. The stretch of 100 between Bertha Road and County Road 55 was closed for 90 minutes this afternoon following a shattering wreck at the entrance of Johnston Brother Farms, when a Frod pick-up truck smashed into and under an 18-wheel rig that was turning onto the farm to take a load of cabbage.
Luke Weston Barraclough, 21, of San Mateo, the next-largest town on State Road 100 to the west (in Putnam County), was at the wheel of his Ford Ranger, a white pick-up, going west, when he collided with the rig. He was flown to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach with non-life-threatening injuries. But a news release by FHP Saturday noted that Barraclough was in critical condition.
Frank Cooper, 69, who’s been driving trucks for 45 years, was at the wheel of his empty 2000 Peterbilt rig. He put on his turn signal as he was nearing the turn at Johnston Farms. (The signal was still blinking the entire time investigators were at the scene.) He began to make his turn, a sharp, 45-degree turn off the two-lane highway, onto a dirt road.
“I didn’t see nothing till he hit me,” Cooper said, still stunned by the wreck, about an hour after it happened. “He must’ve had the hammer down. I never seen him until I heard his horn blowing.” Then he heard and felt the smash and the rig shaking.
The truck was well into its turn, with the cab of the truck halfway through the bridge over a waterlogged creek, but the rig itself still still stretching across the westbound lane of the highway.
For unknown reasons, a Florida Highway Patrol investigator said at the scene, Barraclough did not see the truck’s turn signal, see it slow down or see it begin to make the turn–and when it did, it was too late. Barraclough swerved to the right in an attempt to miss the truck, but slid into it, driver’s side first, with about two thirds of the driver’s side of the truck ending up beneath the rig, between the front and back wheels. “He was stuck under for a little while,” the investigator said of Barraclough.
Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Palm Coast Fire Department responded, working to free Barraclough and place him on a stretcher, then load him on Flagler County Fire Flight, which landed in a cabbage field by the side of the road.
It had been raining for a stretch, Cooper, the driver of the rig, said, but it had stopped raining at the time of the collision. It was merely overcast. The Ford’s tire marks stretched back about 50 feet from the point of impact. The line of sight, from the point of impact looking east, the direction from which both trucks were coming, could follow the road for well over a mile. There was no additional traffic at the time of the collision, the highway patrol investigator said.
Neither driver was impaired, the FHP investigator said, from either alcohol or other substances. And the investigator checked Cooper’s log books: “He’s totally within his hours, so he’s not tired or driving too long,” the investigator said.
If anything, charges are pending against Barraclough, the investigator said.
The wreck was almost immediately reported to 911 at 3:35 this afternoon. The highway patrol was at the scene at 3:44. Fire Flight took off with Weston at 4:27 p.m. The truck was hauled off, after the rig itself was lifted with a crane, by John’s Towing, at just before 5 p.m., and the rig moved off the road at 5 p.m. The road re-opened shortly after.