James Egan Jr., a 64-year-old Palm Coast resident and school bus driver with the Flagler County school district since 2016, was killed in a motorcycle crash at Belle Terre Parkway and Ponce De Leon Drive Tuesday evening.
The crash took place moments before 5:27 p.m., according to 911 notes, when it was called in, and involved several vehicles.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, one SUV was on Ponce Deleon, stopped at the stop sign at the intersection with Belle Terre. Another SUV was traveling north on Bell Terre, in the outside lane. Egan was traveling north on the inside lane “in close proximity” to the SUV traveling alongside.
The SUV that had been at the stop sign then entered the outside northbound lane of Belle Terre Parkway, its front colliding with the right side of the northbound SUV. The collision caused the northbound vehicle to spin clockwise, overturn, and land back on its wheels in the ditch on the east (northbound) side of Belle Terre, just past Ponce Deleon Dr., facing west.
How or whether Egan was struck has not yet been determined, FHP’s release states, but his motorcycle “overturned” and he was thrown from it to the center paved median of Belle Terre. The SUV that had started the sequence by pulling out of Ponce de Leon “came to a controlled stop within the paved median break on Belle Terre Pkwy facing south,” FHP states.
A 75-year-old man was at the wheel of the SUV that had pulled out of Ponce de Leon, with a 73-year-old woman in the passenger seat. Neither was injured. The 25-year-old man at the wheel of the northbound SUV had minor injuries.
Egan, a resident of Palm Coast’s B-Section, had been wearing a helmet. He was initially conscious at the scene and talking but not moving, and had a broken leg and possibly broken ribs, according to 911 notes. (One of the SUV’s drivers had called 911.) Authorities called Trauma One, UF Health’s emergency helicopter, but it was not available. At 5:34 authorities attempted to reach Volusia County’s Air One, but by 5:44 still could not get an ETA. Two minutes later the decision was made to take Egan by ground to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach. It isn’t yet clear why FireFlight, Flagler County’s own emergency helicopter, was not available. It usually does not go out of service until 8 p.m.
After inquiring with the county about FireFlight’s status, the chief pilot and director of maintenance wrote, by way of the county’s public information office: “Fireflight went out of service at 1700 on Tuesday, October 5, 2021. The reason was pilot availability from 1700 to 2000, which is our normal operations schedule. Fire administration was made aware of the change of normal operating hours.” 1700 is 5 p.m., 2000 is 8 p.m.
When Egan left the scene aboard a Flagler County Fire Rescue ambulance, he was still alive. It appears he died at the hospital.
The Palm Coast Fire Department and the Palm Coast Fire Police also responded to the scene. Belle Terre Parkway northbound was reduced to one lane of traffic–and was still that way near 8 p.m.
The Flagler County school district hired Egan in October 2015. He drove the so-called Bat bus, serving students from Matanzas High School and Belle Terre Elementary School. “We have a counseling team at the transportation office to help where needed,” a school district spokesman said this morning.
Lakisha Ayers-White, a colleague at the transportation department, had written early this morning: “When you get a call @4:53 a.m. from work, 1st thing I thought was to be asked to cover a run. Nope. Only to be told a co worker died on his way home from work yesterday. James Egan was the safest man I knew that drove a motorcycle only to find out that’s how he passed away. Hurts so much.” She described him as “a devoted husband & father.”
Another friend wrote: “I just found out I lost my best friend in the whole world, Jim Egan tonight. I am without words, and I cannot fathom a world without him in it! This is absolutely devastating. We were just together a few weeks ago. I never left his presence without telling him I loved him. I thank God for that. I know he is with God, because we had many a conversation about it.”
The intersection of Ponce de Leon Drive and Belle Terre was the scene of a motorcycle fatality in August 2019, when Travis E. Stewart, 56, of Palm Coast, was killed in a collision with a pick-up truck that violated Stewart’s right of way. There are no records of citations or court actions against Scarpone in the Flagler County court docket. The intersection was the scene of severe crashes involving cars and cyclists three times in 2013 and once in 2014, among other crashes. The segment of road was recently lit with street lights.