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A Man Is Found Dead at Palm Coast’s Abandoned Players Club in Apparent Suicide

| June 9, 2017

The Players' Club near European Village was abandoned many years ago. (© FlaglerLive)

The Players’ Club near European Village was abandoned many years ago. (© FlaglerLive)

Crime tape went up at the abandoned Players Club in Palm Coast’s Palm Harbor neighborhood Thursday afternoon (June 8), and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Crime Scene Investigation unit was dispatched there after reports of an apparent suicide.


Clifford D. Van Gorden, a 92-year-old resident of Palm Coast’s C Section, was found by the club’s old tennis courts with a gunshot wound to the head.

His 50-year-old daughter had reported to the sheriff’s office that Van Gorden had left a suicide note in his briefcase, which Van Gorden’s 80-year-old wife had located after returning from the grocery store. In the note, Van Gorden told his family that he would be at the Players Club. He had listed his “final arrangements,” according to a sheriff’s incident report. A gun was missing from the house.

They had seen him only a few hours before, and initially, when asking deputies to search for him, had cautioned, according to 911 dispatch notes, that “when he sets his mind to something, he might not want LEO to get close to him.” The acronym refers to law enforcement officers.

Deputies found Van Gorden near his white Hyundai at 1:30 p.m. He was unresponsive. “There were no signs of a struggle and nothing suspicious was discovered,” the incident report states. Van Gorden was suffering from cancer and had been depressed, according to his family.

He was pronounced dead by Mark Thomas, a Flagler County Fire Rescue 22 paramedic, at 1:45 p.m. (That does not signify that the victim was alive in the interim, only that the actual time of death as officially recorded must wait for certain protocols to be fulfilled.) The scene at the Players Club was cleared at 4:15 p.m., after the Medical Examiner removed the body for an autopsy in St. Augustine, as is customary in such instances. A family friend recovered the vehicle.

It was the second suicide in two days. The afternoon of June 6, Richard Owen, a 49-year-old resident of Plantation Bay, was found by his mother at home after he shot himself in the chest. His father had also committed suicide several years before, according to an incident report, and Owens was suffering from a medical condition. Authorities followed the same procedures as they would two days later at the Players Club.

Social service agencies in Flagler have been concerned about suicides in the county–there were 26 in 2015, 19 last year–to the point of crafting an initiative, under the auspices of FlaglerCares, aimed at suicide prevention. That initiative is to launch in September, according to Carrie Baird, the group’s executive director.

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21 Responses for “A Man Is Found Dead at Palm Coast’s Abandoned Players Club in Apparent Suicide”

  1. S Peters says:

    Do something about AFFORDABLE MEDICAL CARE!!!!!!!!! People shouldn’t have to choose death by suicide over bankruptcy. Universal healthcare for all. Affordable medications… This is a serious problem in this country and if it weren’t for the ridiculous greed of insurance companies, drug companies health care health care providers we would probably see a lot more people handling critical health issues with more control instead of hopelessness. People are sick and in pain out there. The greed has to stop.

  2. palmcoaster says:

    I totally agree with you….Peters!!

  3. Elaine says:

    I wholeheartedly agree. Very well put.

  4. Lance the Libertarian says:

    S Peters…

    You are a disgrace to try and turn something as awful as this into politics.

    Please support the families during this very tumultuous time.

  5. Wtf says:

    Horrified. Oh dear God. Nothing to live for I can only guess that’s Flagler for ya

  6. Anonymous says:

    God bless their families. I totally agree with Peter, there are so many people living in horrible pain. I understand, me too!! You loss your life, because you can’t do much without pain. I’m definitely not suicidal, I don’t believe in it. This world has become a scary place. And it is impossible to get medication, that will help you. I have trust in God, for his help. So so sad!! My deepest sympathies.

  7. Alphonso Zeimers says:

    I have cancer and have had it for 20 plus years. My 45 year old daughter has the same type of cancer that I have. My sister died from cancer at 72. Treatment is a waste of money. The chances of being cured are about the same as winning Power Ball. The whole cancer industry is a scam and the people in the industry know it. The poor old guy took the smart way out.

  8. The Geode says:

    There is NO amount of “health care” is going to help a 92 year old with cancer. If anything, ASSISTED SUICIDE should be an option for people like this…

  9. Wishful thinking says:

    Agree with S Peters completely. Our world needs many more doctors who put their oath and their hearts above all but the healthcare system sucks their blood the same as it does to us.
    No longer are doctors able make decisions about the care they want to provide. A scary and unhealthy and sometimes deadly occurance such as this poor man obviously not given much reason to live. Scary

  10. Tommyo says:

    It’s not politics it’s the truth. Every day someone makes a choice, eat or pay rent, buy medicine or buy food, pay electricity bill or eat a bullet. It’s so sad we live in one of the most prosperous countries on the planet yet we have loving souls who have to make these choices.

  11. Becky says:

    Commenters don’t know if these people had good insurance or not.

  12. Pogo says:

    @ S Peters

    Proud to agree

    @ All the john galts, dagny taggarts and angels of anarchy:

    http://critiques.us/index.php?title=Critiques_Of_Libertarianism

  13. RayD says:

    It is extremely sad that this man made to to 92 and then took his own life. He was eligible for Medicare so the universal health care comment was not only insensitive but also off base.

  14. Anna says:

    He had the right to end his own life. He’s 92. I hope one day assisted suicide happens in America so people can choose to die in peace and with less pain.

  15. mark101 says:

    I agree with Anna “I hope one day assisted suicide happens in America so people can choose to die in peace and with less pain.” A person should not have to suffer. A doctor administers the meds and you just go to sleep.

  16. Sherry says:

    S Peters and Anna. . . thank you for your very valid comments. RayD. . . just FYI. . . Medicare does not pay 100% of medical costs and, depending on the plan selected, doesn’t pay for pharmaceuticals at all. So yes. . . “Universal Health Care” IS still very badly needed, and assistance with ending one’s own life under such circumstances should be a “right” for all human beings.

    The USA is still in the “dark ages” when it comes to a healthy life. . . and to the end of life with dignity.

  17. Jjee says:

    Assisted suicide is ok but death penalty is not? What is “humane”?

  18. James F Carty says:

    My wife is now 81 and has had breast cancer,lung cancer (both lungs one lobe removed) and liver cancer. She has been cancer free for 6 Months.(after 8 years) I Hope we have not been wasting our time , Medicare money and a huge amount of our friends and families prayers.
    God decided I would arrive in this world and already knows how I will leave.
    I am 81 ,midway through my radiation treatment and plan to live to be 100. With faith in God and my Doctors I plan a long and happy life for myself and my wife.Prayer is the answer to all our needs.God Bless each and everyone of you, may you not have to be so week, that you loose faith.

  19. Sherry says:

    OK. . . There is a VAST difference between “Assisted Suicide” and the “Death Penalty” .

    With assisted suicide there is NO crime, or criminal, or judge, or jury. There is a very “personal” CHOICE about how to end YOUR OWN life. YOU are the decision maker. YOU are in control.

    With the “Death Penalty”. . . it is the OPPOSITE. The person whose life is in the balance has NO CONTROL. A judge and jury decide life or death!

    Yes. . . it is very likely they committed a terrible crime. . . although NOT 100% of those sitting on death row are guilty. Some have been found completely innocent (often due to DNA evidence) and pardoned after being in prison for many years.

    Therefore. . . there is NO valid comparison!

  20. Jw says:

    Sherry I understand what you are saying but take away everything you said and ask yourself one question. What is humane?????

    When a child is aborted it isn’t their decision is it? It doesn’t matter who makes the decision or who is guilty. Is it humane to take a life? Yours or someone else’s it’s really the same. Life is given life is taken. If a government is creating a legal way for one to be put to death whether it is their choice or not then they are an accessory to murder. There is no argument. Thank you.

  21. Anonymous says:

    Death With Dignity, why aren’t the police pushing for it? Aren’t they tired of investigating these cases and cleaning up the mess, not to mention the horror to the family member who finds them??? My 86-yr old best friend shot himself after informing 911 of his intention after years of worry he’d linger in a nursing home a burden to his kids. The cancer money machine, pharmaceuticals, and the medical profession as a whole has a vested interest in keeping people alive who don’t want to be. It just sucks, and something should be done about it. A doctor should be able to put you out of your misery if you so choose. It should be a right to not have to suffer.

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