Flagler County Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the strange case of a car fire and a man’s death after the man, himself on fire, jumped into a canal at 61 Longview Way in Palm Coast’s Tidelands subdivision late the morning of Nov. 20. The body of Michael Josef Ursini, 42, a resident of the B-Section, was later retrieved. He was three months away from his wedding day.
The incident–including what may have been an explosion–was reported to the Sheriff’s Office around 11 when someone across the canal saw the man who turned out to be Ursini on fire, and jumping into the water. According to a heavily censored incident report–the investigation still being ongoing–smoke was poring out of a rear passenger side door of a white Ford van. Bystanders told the deputy that two workers had been at the Longview Way property all morning, but “must have gone on lunch break.” Ursini and his co-worker had been working on a new house at the location.
A sheriff’s community-oriented policing volunteer called out to the deputy for help, saying Ursini was in the water. Ursini was in the water face down and unresponsive when the deputy got there, and a paint can was on fire only a few feet away from where Ursini was.
Ursini is the owner of Ursini Signature Painting, a company he founded two years ago with his fiancee. The company is based out of his Bickford Lane house, according to state Division of Corporations records. The company’s Facebook page features numerous examples of its work in the county. Describing itself as “a 2 team small local painting business” in June, that same month it was looking for additional workers as it was expanding in Palm Coast and Flagler Beach.
The deputy retrieved Ursini from the water and attempted three cycles of CPR before paramedics got to the scene. A paramedic pronounced Michael Ursini deceased at 11:17, about 15 minutes from the time the incident was first reported to authorities.
Ursini had been there with one 32-year-old co-worker. Deputies collected statements from individuals at the scene and secured footage of certain vehicles entering and leaving Tidelands at particular times. Later that afternoon, a sheriff’s dive team responded to the scene and retrieved several items that could be germaine to the investigation.