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Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year and Flagler Fire Truck Involved in 2 Separate Crashes in 4 Days

| February 19, 2019

Deputy Austin Chewning's agency-issued Dodge Challenger sustained $15,000 in damages in the Hammock crash Saturday. (FCSO)

Deputy Austin Chewning’s agency-issued Dodge Challenger sustained $15,000 in damages in the Hammock crash Saturday. (FCSO)

Flagler County first responders were involved in two separate, unrelated crashes in a four-day span, as were two civilians: Austin Chewning, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year, was involved in a crash in the Hammock on Saturday. Firefighters on a tender truck were involved in a crash this morning on Education Way and U.S. 1 in Palm Coast.


In both cases, the cop and the firefighters were responding to active incidents.

This morning’s crash took place minutes before 6 a.m. Flagler County Fire Rescue’s Tender 62 was responding to an active vehicle fire at Thunder Gulch. According to Fire Chief Don Petito, the tender, a tanker truck, “was attempting to make a U turn at Royal Palms and US 1 to get to the entrance to Thunder Gulch,” which is the only way to access Thunder Gulch coming from Bunnell, as there are no cut-throughs.

At that moment, a gray 2011 Dodge Avenger driven by Lynzee Matthews “tried to pass Tender 62 from the left hand turning lane,” Petito said. “The Avenger struck the front bumper of Tender 62 on the driver’s side tearing the bumper from the frame.” Tender 62 had the lights and sirens engaged at the time. The avenger came from behind Tender 62 in the process of making the U turn and was cited by FHP for failing to yield to an emergency vehicles, Petito said.

Petito was incorrect, as a Florida Highway Patrol crash report obtained by FlaglerLive indicated.

A person claiming to be Matthews (and referring to herself as a “correctional officer” when she said her name should be removed from the article) contacted FlaglerLive and said the truck was to blame, not her, but hung up when asked to elaborate.

“We’re going by what the trooper said on scene, by what my guys tell me the trooper said on scene,” Petito later clarified. But he also said that the information about a citation was “from what they told me on scene,” not from FHP’s documented conclusion. FHP could not be reached this evening.

The crash report, obtained on Feb. 21, states explicitly that the fire truck had violated Matthews’s right of way, not the other way around–and Matthews was not cited.

Burney told FHP that the firetruck’s emergency lights and sirens were activated when he attempted to make a U-turn and the collision occurred. Matthews “stated while traveling northbound it appeared [the firetruck] was making a right turn when suddenly [the firetruck] changed path of travel to the left with its emergency lights and sirens activated,” FHP’s report states. Subsequently, Matthews “took evasive actions to the left to avoid a collision when the collision occurred.”

Matthews was transported to AdventHealth Palm Coast in non-emergency mode, for non-life threatening injuries. None of the first responders were injured. Firefighter Paramedic Eric Burney was driving the tender, with Firefighter EMT Nate Webster as a passenger.

Deputy Austin Chewning. (FCSO)

Deputy Austin Chewning. (FCSO)

The crash involving Chewning took place Saturday afternoon. He had just completed a traffic stop on North Ocean Shore Blvd., north of Jungle Hut Road in the Hammock, and was pulled over on the right shoulder of the northbound lane, according to a sheriff’s supervisor’s report.

At about 12:55 p.m., “Chewning observed a traffic infraction on another vehicle traveling south on North Ocean Shore Blvd.,” the report states. Chewning “reentered the roadway to make a U turn to conduct a traffic stop and he did not see the other vehicle traveling north on North Ocean Shore Blvd. The other vehicle struck Deputy Chewning’s patrol vehicle as he was making the U-turn.”

Air bags deployed. Chewning was reported to have facial lacerations at the time of the crash. He was checked out by Rescue 41 on scene and was later transported to AdventHealth. The Florida Highway Patrol investigated the incident.

Sean M. Joyce, 55, of Palm Coast, was at the wheel of the 2002 Ford F350 that collided with Chewning’s 2018 Dodge Challenger. Joyce did not report any injuries, according to the sheriff’s report.

The Ford sustained $2,000 in damages to the right-front fender, bumper and right headlight area, according to the sheriff’s report. Chewning’s agency-issued Dodge Challenger sustained $15,000 in damages to the front bumper, the hood and both fenders. The sheriff’s report categorizes the crash as “preventable” because Chewning “Did not check for oncoming vehicles before entering roadway,” the report states.

The Ford involved in the crash with deputy Chewning's Dodge.  (FCSO)

The Ford involved in the crash with deputy Chewning’s Dodge. (FCSO)


The Dodge Challenger after the crash. (FCSO)

The Dodge Challenger after the crash. (FCSO)


The tender truck’s front bumper. (Flagler County Fire Rescue)


education way crash

The 2011 Dodge Avenger in the Education Way crash with the tender truck. (Flagler County Fire Rescue)


17 Responses for “Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year and Flagler Fire Truck Involved in 2 Separate Crashes in 4 Days”

  1. Kathielee says:

    When Chewning was with the Bunnell PD he was in 2 crashes that were also his fault … I think he needs to go to driving school.. Was Chewning issued a ticket ????

  2. Shark says:

    They should make this clown pay for the damage – not the taxpayers for his negligence. He should be issued a summons for careless driving !!!

  3. C’mon man says:

    Chewing is a good dude and will give the shirt off his back for a stranger. Even if it’s his fault, 1 accident in 10 years of police work ok to MY standards. At least he wasn’t texting and driving…..bro!!

  4. lamo says:

    No ticket for the deputy? Maybe they will let him investigate his own crash?

  5. Carol says:

    I’m glad everyone is alright. However, these police officers need to be just as cautious as we have to be, even though they are law enforcement.

  6. tim says:

    So why wasnt the deputy cited.like any other citizen would have been.After all he did make a illegal uturn into oncoming traffic..

  7. Confused says:

    So let me get this straight….

    A Flagler County fire fighter makes an illegal u-turn, causes a crash and gets a ticket.

    A Flagler County deputy makes an illegal u-turn, causes a crash and does not get a ticket.

    A bit of a double standard.

  8. Bill says:

    ” Chewning “reentered the roadway to make a U turn to conduct a traffic stop and he did not see the other vehicle traveling north on North Ocean Shore Blvd. The other vehicle struck Deputy Chewning’s patrol vehicle as he was making the U-turn.”

    Shouldn’t this say that Deputy Chewing struck The other vehicle when making a improper u turn???

  9. Kathielee says:

    When Chewning worked with the Bunnell PD he was also in two accidents which were his fault .. Chewning you’re a liability to each department you work for .. Was he issued a ticket ????

  10. Concerned Citizen says:

    The Sheriff continues to have a rough month.

    I am curious to know if Chewning was cited since the crash was deemed preventable. Also will there be any disciplinary action against the deputy? With other officer involved crashes recently reported the SO needs to send it’s Deputies back to EVOC and teach them how to drive.

    They also need to learn to follow the rules of the road like civilians are expected to do. I drive a good bit of the day for work and constantly see Deputies and FHP Troopers perfome unsafe manuvers that would leave most of us with citations. Yesterday evening I watched a Deputy going down Palm Coast Pkwy decide he wanted 95 and moved from far right to the inner left turn land with no signal and no emergency lights.

    In regards to Fire Rescue myself and my neighbors have seen them roll thru stop signs and the 4 way stop at Palm Harbor leaving from calls. I suppose in this county you think you don’t have to obey laws when driving emergency vehicles.

    Having driven both a patrol car and an Engine you have to remember all eyes are on you. Do the right thing every time. That way everyone goes home safe.

  11. Really?? says:

    Kathielee you seem weirdly invested (as well as annoying self righteous) in Deputy Chewning. I assume you’ve never made a mistake while driving and been involved in an ACCIDENT? I’m also going to assume since you have such a strong opinion on the topic, that with your PERFECT driving record, you’re going to go through the academy and do the job these deputies do day in and day out? I’m sure you’re so perfect you’ll never make a mistake, an accident, and have an article written about you that keyboard warriors can comment on and say whatever they please even though they contribute nothing. 🤷‍♀️

  12. C’mon man says:

    Generally, issuing a citation in a traffic crash primarily establishes who is at fault. Perhaps there is no reason to issue a ticket if he admitted and evidence shows it was his fault. There are countless crashes that occur weekly, many handles by volunteer COPS where Neither driver gets a ticket. He will be disciplined through agency protocol and shouldn’t that be enough? Does he have to have a ticket, points on his license leading to the chance he cannot drive an agency car again? Guarantee you this, if you ever had a problem, life or death and Chewning shows up, your in good hands.

  13. Kathielee says:

    Really??? We’re all interested to know if he was given a citation .. You know nothing about me or who or where I work for … Really you have a wonderful day !!

  14. Ryry says:

    It seems Chewning has a fan .. C’mon man and Really ? Issue a ticket like everyone else gets .

  15. Anonymous says:

    First of all…. if ANY of you knew what a law enforcement officer has to go through on a daily basis, you would not envy their position. Not only do they spend countless hours helping people, who are unappreciative..they put themselves in life threatening danger … all while spending days away from their families, missing holidays, birthdays and special events. SO let’s not crucify a deputy for one car accident. This is this deputy’s ONLY traffic accident and otherwise has a perfect driving record.
    It’s honestly nobody’s concern on whether he was cited or not…I don’t think any of you complain when an officers cuts you a break on a speeding ticket.
    Deputy Austin Chewning won deputy of the year because he deserved it..: the most HARD working deputy in the agency and would do anything for a stranger…. including everyone of you…. so instead of everyone getting upset and judging this deputy… let’s thank him for his service and sacrifices.

  16. Mary Fusco says:

    @Anonymous, you are absolutely 100% correct. My son in law retired a few years ago after 25 years as a NYPD narcotics detective. He was very seldom home for holidays or special occasions. His 3 children many times had Xmas in the middle of the night. After he worked long enough to have seniority and my grandchildren were older, he worked holidays so that the younger officers could be home with their families. Every night when he left for work, my daughter did not know if she would ever see him again. Very stressful. These men and women see things that no one should ever see. Only in Flagler County, FL would this nonsense be news. Sadly, the deputies in Flagler County work for peanuts responding to idiotic calls day and night. Personally, I do not know why anyone would choose law enforcement as a profession. It is a dangerous and thankless job. My hat goes off to all that do.

  17. Hanz Riech says:

    That tint looks too dark to be legal on Deputy Chewning’s car. I’m sure being above the law offer’s perks like not having to follow the rules of the road off duty which would lead to accidents like this.

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