Michael Halford, 61, Is Killed After His Truck Plunges in Canal at Belle Terre and Royal Palms
FlaglerLive | February 12, 2014
Authorities don’t know why Michael Halford drifted off of Belle Terre Parkway as he was driving north at mid-morning today. But by 11 a.m., Halford, 61, of Palatka, was dead after being transported to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach, the second road fatality in Palm Coast in less than a week.
There was no indication of speed, no indication of Halford was trying to avoid an animal. But somehow the pick-up truck and trailer he was pulling ended up in the canal almost beneath the pedestrian bridge to the walking trail there. The truck went into the ditch by missing the guardrail and traveling between the guard rail and the red pedestrian bridge.
Halford was waterlogged and entrapped in the vehicle until he was pulled out by Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputy Harold “Nate” Smith, who was off-duty and on the walking path for a morning run, according to Sheriff’s Spokesman Bob Weber.
“Deputy saw vehicle go into the water and enter canal,” Weber wrote in a summary of the incident. “Found subject inside vehicle with legs trapped and water up to drivers chin. Deputy was able to free driver’s legs and with assistance from others on-scene was able to pull driver out of the water.”
The incident took place around 9:45 a.m. Halford was traveling north in his Ford F-150 on Belle Terre on the outside lane, approaching Royal Palms, according to the Florida Highway Patrol’s Cpl. Steve Howard, the homicide investigator working the case, when, for an unknown reason, the vehicle drifted.
Halford was pulling a trailer that was itself carrying an all-terrain vehicle cart. The pick-up truck served and traveled about 300 feet down the embankment. “Because of the force of the impact of the truck into the water, the gator–the four-wheeler–was thrown forward into the bed of the truck and hit the back the cab,” Howard said. But the investigator is not concluding at this time that the impact of the ATV on the cap was the source of the man’s injuries.
“I was told that he was unconscious when fire rescue or the deputy first showed up, but at some point he was talking,” Howard said.
“I don’t see an indication of speed,” Howard said. “There’s no acceleration, there’s no breaking, it’s a constant speed, and I don’t see any evasive action taken by the driver.” The investigation is ongoing.
“While alcohol does not appear to be an immediate factor,” an FHP spokesman said later, “we are looking at all possibilities. This would include whether or not it was a medical related issue.”
Because of bad weather, the emergency helicopter could not be called in. The man was taken to Halifax by ground.
One lane of Belle Terre Parkway was closed to traffic as investigators and rescuers worked the scene. The Palm Coast Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Palm Coast Fire Police were at the scene, in addition to the Sheriff’s Office and FHP. John’s Towing removed the vehicles.
On Feb. 8, Robert Cronin, a 62-year-old Palm Coast resident, was killed when he struck his vehicle against a tree on a Whiteview Parkway median.