Car and Semi Tangle on I-95 and Dive Down 30-Foot Ravine in Sunday Morning Wreck
FlaglerLive | January 20, 2013
I-95 just north of the Old Dixie Highway exit was the scene of a spectacular crash at dawn Sunday, as a semi truck and a Lincoln Town Car collided, then jointly swerved off the highway and down a 30-foot ravine, into a retention pond.
The wreck seriously injured the truck driver and left Robert Earl Lewis, the 35-year-old driver of the 1998 Lincoln (and Palm Coast resident), somehow unscathed, though Lewis was shaken up. Eric C. Whyne, the 46-year-old driver of the truck, was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler.
According to a Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene, the 10-wheel Freight Liner, which was not hooked to a trailer, and the Lincoln, were driving north on I-95 at 5 this morning (Jan. 20). Lewis told the investigator that he suddenly saw in his rear-view mirror that a large pick-up truck was speeding his way, very fast. Lewis thought the pick-up truck was going to hit him. He swerved toward the right shoulder to avoid him–and lost control of the Lincoln.
The Lincoln’s tire marks could be seen arcing in and out of the shoulder onto the Interstate. The Lincoln’s right-front bumper bore a thick black mark from where it struck a tire on the semi, and both semi and car, somehow, either locked or parallel to each other, then veered right several dozen yards, through the wide grassy area ahead of a pond–and dove in, unable to stop. The pond was shallow, but 30 feet below the level of the road. The semi had traveled far enough across the length of the pond, which is more than 30 feet across, to hit the other side of the pond, and leave parts of its hood there, before crashing down.
“That’s what he says happened,” the investigator said of Lewis. “Did it happen that way? Based on my 28 years of experience, I tend to believe the fellow.” Whyne told the investigator that he was traveling at about 70 miles an hour, when suddenly a car struck him.
Lewis was able to crawl out of his car and up the steep walls of the pond to get back to street level and flag down help. Otherwise, it would have been impossible for any drivers passing by to know that the two vehicles were at the bottom of the pond. Whyne was immobilized in his cab, and had to be extricated by teams from Flagler County Fire Rescue and Ormond Beach paramedics, who were called in to help.
Roger’s Towing removed the vehicles by 10 a.m. By then, while the Lincoln was still in one piece, the cab of the truck had been severed from its trailer section. The Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Protection were due to rebuild the fencing around the pond, and clean up the minor environmental spill: oil and diesel. The investigation continues. Traffic on I-95 was never impeded.