Charles Ownbey, 72, Is Killed In Motorcycle Wreck on I-95, South of Palm Coast Parkway
FlaglerLive | February 20, 2014
Last Updated: 5:45 p.m.
Charles Ownbey, a 72-year-old motorcyclist riding a rented Harley-Davidson with his 59-year-old wife Rebecca Ownbey, was killed early this afternoon off the southbound lanes of I-95 when he lost control of the motorcycle, sending the bike across the paved shoulder, through a wood-line and into a knee-deep, waterlogged ditch.
An earlier witness report to 911 had attributed the crash to a tire blowing, but when the motorcycle was retrieved from the water at 5 p.m., three hours after the crash, both of the bike’s tires were still fully inflated.
Rebecca Ownbey survived with non life-threatening injuries. She was transported top Florida Hospital Flagler, where she was undergoing surgery late in the afternoon.
The Ownbeys, from Dalton, Ga., had rented the Harley-Davidson this morning and were on their way to returning it in Daytona Beach, and joining two sons, who were at the car races at the International Speedway.
The wreck took place at 2 p.m. About one mile south of the Palm Coast Parkway intersection.
A Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene said a witness saw the Ownbeys as they rode in the outside lane, ahead of the witness, who rode in the center lane. The Ownbeys were not speeding. They were going perhaps 70 or 72. At some point, very suddenly, “the motorcycle acted like it had a problem, and it just went down on its side,” the investigator said. The motorcycle traveled on its side first past the paved shoulder, then onto the grass embankment, then slammed against two young, adjoining trees. The motorcycle sheared the youngest of the two tree from the base of its trunk and left a gash on the slightly thicker tree, continuing into the waterlogged ditch. The motorcycle ended in the water, the small tree alongside it.
Charles Ownbey, who was pronounced dead at the scene, was dragged with the motorcycle into the water. Rebecca, from what the preliminary investigation has concluded, appears to have been knocked off the bike, perhaps by the second tree, just before the bike ended up in the water. Rebecca was thrown onto the grassy shoulder, where another passerby who’d stopped covered her with a blanket and comforted her before paramedics and the Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies arrived at the scene.
The Medical Examiner took possession of the body at 3:53 p.m. Helmets were retrieved from the scene as was, around 5 p.m.
Until 2:45 p.m., traffic on I-95 South flowed normally, as emergency vehicles lined the shoulder but the wreck itself was not visible to passing motorists. Traffic began to slow and back up after 2:45 p.m. As Florida Highway Patrol homicide investigators arrived at the scene and began work that usually takes several hours. The Palm Coast Fire Police was directing traffic away from the outside lane, causing the back-up.
But by 4:30 p.m., traffic was flowing normally again. Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Palm Coast Fire Department responded to the scene. John’s Towing retrieved the motorcycle by 5:30 p.m.
Images from the scene will post shortly.