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Man, 59, Critical After He Was Found Submerged in a U-Section Swale as Children Returned From School

| April 11, 2018

David Niesse was discovered in his swale in front of his house on Tuesday, on Utica Path in Palm Coast.

David Niesse was discovered in his swale in front of his house on Tuesday, on Utica Path in Palm Coast.

As the Imagine School bus was drove through Palm Coast’s U-Section for its afternoon run Tuesday, children aboard the nearly-full bus were startled by a disturbing sight that left many of them shaken: a man was lying face down in a swale in front of 69 Utica Path, seemingly unresponsive.

The man was David A. Niesse, the 59-year-old resident who’s owned the house at 69 Utica for 12 years, who works for Florida Power and Light, and who is well known in the neighborhood. His girlfriend, Phyllis Mallar, lives a few houses down on Utica (in the house across the street from the scene of the plane crash into a house, since demolished and replaced, in January 2013).

Amy Olszonka, the Imagine bus driver, told Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies that she saw Niesse face down with water up to his chest. He wasn’t moving. His legs were not submerged. They pointed toward his house, suggesting that he’d walked out of the house and somehow fallen into the swale or lost consciousness there. According to a sheriff’s incident report, the bus driver then “instructed one of her students who lives next door to 69 Utica Path to run inside and call 911.”

Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedics worked a “full code” on Niesse and took him to Florida Hospital Flagler, unresponsive but alive. There were no visible signs of trauma, the sheriff’s report states. The house showed no signs of damage or anything out of the ordinary. Though the scene would teem with sheriff’s office units for a while, the incident was determined to have involved no foul play and was categorized as a medical call.

A detective contacted Mallar and drove her to the hospital. Mallar told the detective that Niesse had been having medical issues but did not know what they were. Neighbors said he had been trying to get on disability. He was due to pick up Mallar at about 3 p.m. but never made it to her house. She’d texted him and called him several times—until a detective actually picked up Niesse’s phone. Neighbors had last seen Niesse come home by car around noon.

At the hospital, medical personnel told sheriff’s deputies that Niesse was in critical condition but stable, with no visible signs of trauma, “and that the initial cause appeared to be an unknown medical condition.” Hospital staff told deputies that blood work showed Niesse’s blood-alcohol level to have been 0.226, a level of impairment severe enough to cause blackouts, falls and choking.

The incident caused significant concerns for the children on the school bus. “My daughter was on the bus that stopped to help. She has been asking about him and is very sad about seeing him like that,” one parent wrote in a neighborhood Facebook page. “My boys were on the bus too,” another wrote, “they were so upset yesterday.”

Niesse has remained in critical condition since, with family due in town from out of state, in response to the emergency.


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15 Responses for “Man, 59, Critical After He Was Found Submerged in a U-Section Swale as Children Returned From School”

  1. Anonymous says:

    The city should be held responsible because there should not be any water standing in the swales! For the amount of money this city collects, there is no excuse. That is a breeding ground for misquito’s and it is also where alligators and snakes like to harbor. It doesn’t matter if the man fell, tripped, passed out or what have you….if the water wasn’t there this never would have happened. The council members don’t think anything about throwing hundreds of thousands of dollars to Jim Landon to fill his pockets….they too have a responsibility and they have been neglectful. This is not the first rain that we have had that water has remained in the swales, and I am sure it won’t be the last because this city is more concerned plastering Holland all over the place and catering to Netts and Landon. Now get ready to get your check book out. I pray for this man and a full recovery. How terrible!

  2. BlueJammer says:

    Prayers for this man, his family, and, especially, for the children who witnessed this tragedy. Thank God for Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedics.

  3. BeachGuy says:

    How about equipping the bus driver with a phone, so she can make the 911 call vs. sending the kid into their home to make that call? What if someone on the bus needed medical attention? Would the bus driver stop and send a kid into a neighboring home to call for help?

  4. Richard says:

    Prayers go out to Niesse for a full recovery with hopes that he will be put on disability until his health condition improves. Plus I pray that he will get help with any alcohol addiction that he may have since his BAC was 0.226, well above the legal limit of 0.08 for driving a car which he had planned on doing around 3pm based on his girlfriends statement. Godspeed!

  5. Steve Vanne says:

    My rode floods every time we have a lot of rain (its flooded now). County comes down and looks at it and does NOTHING. Waiting until it floods my home then there will be a lawsuit. We need to stop putting up new landscaping and take care of our pour drainage problem…

  6. Linze says:

    When it rains 2 or 3 inches I have enough water to float a boat for 2or 3 days since the city dug our swell out and took out our driveway to lower it 1 inch,really messed my driveway up, I had mayor netts at the time to look at it and said city not going to fix,when he could have had contractor repair it.
    Hope my neighbors kids doesn’t drown in it
    Prayers him

  7. Concernedparent says:

    Our streets flood beyond belief with ever rain. Plus our city sewers back up with the rain water since the pumping system is a joke. One day we had literally raw sewage everywhere. Oh the city sent in several septic tankers but come on. Can’t they get this stuff right? We live off Prichard/Princeton area.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I pray for this man & his family… But seriously on the comment? It had been raining heavy for a couple days & that’s why the swale is for. Where is that much water supposed to go? Jeesh

  9. woodchuck says:

    Ahhhh,the swale is secondary.If he fell and cracked his head on a cement driveway then what?

  10. Just me says:

    OMG the comments on RAIN water being the fault of government. the swale system (for the vast part) works fine and as it was built to do. It moves water to drainage canals and ponds it also is MEANT to hold some water to have it perk back into the NATURIAL ground water system. I hope this man has a full recovery.

  11. That'sTheFactJack says:

    Agree! Can’t be blaming the city for a natural occurrences.

  12. Kaitlyn says:

    We should be commending the bus driver for acting so quickly to save this mans lives. Her first duty was to protect the children on the bus and once they were secure she pulled the man from the water. The police were impressed by her professionalism. My young child was on the bus and said the older children would not let them look out the window. Kudos to the driver.

  13. Anonymous says:


  14. Jenn says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Kaitlyn

  15. Kaitlyn says:

    Imagine Scool bus drivers have phones

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