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Paul Swarts, 60, Is Killed, 12-Year-Old Girl Injured as Van Rear-Ends Dump Truck on US 1 in Palm Coast

| December 26, 2018

The Ford Windstar rear-ended a dump truck early this morning on U.S. 1 in Palm Coast. (© FlaglerLive)

The Ford Windstar rear-ended a dump truck early this morning on U.S. 1 in Palm Coast. (© FlaglerLive)

Last Updated: 5:03 p.m.

Paul Swarts, 60, of Bunnell, was killed and 12-year-old Pepper Rose Swarts was injured in an early-morning crash involving a minivan and a dump truck on U.S. 1 in Palm Coast, the fifth fatality of December on Flagler County roads, and more particularly on U.S. 1, which has claimed four of the five deaths.

All four deaths occurred in the stretch from U.S. 1’s intersection with Old Dixie Highway to just north of Belle Terre Boulevard.

The crash took place at 6:22 a.m. in the northbound lanes of U.S. 1, between Belle Terre Boulevard and Kankakee Trail. Paul Swarts and Pepper Swarts were in a white Ford Windstar minivan, driving north, when the van rear-ended the dump truck owned by Antonio Diaz, a one-truck company based in Palm Coast’s R Section, according to Department of Transportation records.

The dump truck was driving along on U.S. 1 when it was struck.

“It probably looks like speed was a factor. The dump truck was not at fault,” a Florida Highway Patrol trooper said at the scene. An FHP release late this afternoon did not give a reason for the crash, though family members of the victim say health issues may have been the cause.

The crash took place on a long stretch of straight road just before sunup. It was a dry dawn. Both the van and the truck were in the right lane. The van’s front end was smashed beyond recognition. The truck appeared to have sustained little visible damage as troopers interviewed the driver and tested the truck’s equipment.

The driver was not responsive at the scene, according to 911 notes, as Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies applied CPR until paramedics arrived at the scene.

Flagler County Fire Rescue transported the victims to local hospitals–the driver to Florida Hospital Flagler, where he was pronounced dead, and the girl to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach, with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Palm Coast Fire Police and DBi Services shut down U.S. 1 northbound at Belle Terre Boulevard, to Kankakee Trail, as FHP’s traffic homicide investigators did their work. The road was expected to reopen in late morning.

After a year of fewer road casualties, compared to 2017, December has proved to be a grim month on Flagler’s roads, with a 62-year-old motorcyclist dying on U.S. 1, just south of today’s crash, on Dec. 22, and a 62-year-old dying of his injuries a week earlier from a single-pick-up truck crash on U.S. 1, also just south of today’s crash site. On Dec. 15, an 85-year-old woman was killed in a crash on U.S. 1 and Seminole Woods Boulevard. And on Dec. 7, a 38-year-old motorcyclist was killed when his motorcycle ran off the road in Palm Coast’s R Section.

The scene at today’s crash was cleared at about 10:30 a.m.

The dump truck is owned by Antonio Diaz of Palm Coast. (© FlaglerLive)

The dump truck is owned by Antonio Diaz of Palm Coast. Troopers were testing its equipment this morning. (© FlaglerLive)

The van's front. (© FlaglerLive)

The van’s front. (© FlaglerLive)

The truck appears to have sustained little damage. (© FlaglerLive)

The truck appears to have sustained little damage. (© FlaglerLive)

us 1 crash

(© FlaglerLive)

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10 Responses for “Paul Swarts, 60, Is Killed, 12-Year-Old Girl Injured as Van Rear-Ends Dump Truck on US 1 in Palm Coast”

  1. michael H. Brown says:

    That stretch of road on US1 is outright spooky!

  2. Steve Ward says:

    Sad RIP

  3. Laurie says:

    Wonder if the dump truck tail lights were working??

  4. PC says:

    The article clearly states that an inspection was done on the dump truck and there were no problems with it. Maybe the driver was ill and he was having issues. Either way very sad for the driver and for the family of the man who passed away. May he rest in peace.

  5. Concerned Citizen says:

    My condolences to the family.

    Please please please slow down and maintain proper dseperation between vehicles. I have seen constant tailgaiting and aggresvie driving and it’s not doing anyone any favors.

    Most notably I drive the 25 zone on A1A every day for work. I have had on 3 different occasions this week tailgaters and folks flashing their lights to speed up.

    That 25 zone isn’t optional folks and tickets in that area are expensive and we didn’t set the speed limit.. You need to plan ahead and leave more time to get where you are going. I’m not catching a ticket or causing an accident because you are impatient. The more agressive you drive just ensures I am compliant with the posted speed limit.

    Finally speed limits are not optional. They aren’t suggested. Also the few distractions you have the fewer chances there are being involved in an accident. I don’t understand why people just can’t drive and focus on what they are doing.

    There have been way to many accidents on our roads. Almost all preventable. And one to many fatalities. We need to start addressing our driving habits. Accountability begins behind with the driver behind the wheel.

  6. Charles "Bub" Robson says:

    Just wait till the roundabout gets in place on US1. the fatal crashes will sky rocket. A traffic light would have helped reduce crashes. Imagine coming up on the roundabout at 50-70mph at night.

  7. Sad mama says:

    Such a sad loss of life. That little girl must’ve been so scared, too. Tragic. May he Rest In Peace.

  8. RITCHIE says:

    This has the symptoms of texting and driving.

    Very unfortunate. Condolences to the survivors and healing for the child.

  9. gmath55 says:

    @ Concerned Citizen – “Finally speed limits are not optional. They aren’t suggested.” Did you know there are suggested speed limit signs? Suggested speeds are found ending in 5, and they start at 15km/h. They are almost always for cornering and are either in a yellow rectangle or attached to chevrons such as on the left here.

    The difference between speed limits and suggested speeds.

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