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Col. Jack Howell, Teens-In-Flight Leader, Is Seriously Bloodied in Motorcycle Accident

| January 7, 2012

Jack Howell always wears his enthusiasm on his sleeve.

Update 2, 5:17 p.m. Jack Howell is recovering at home, and AmVets raised over $1,600 for Teens-in-Flight at today’s fund-raiser.

Update, 2:45 p.m.: Jack Howell checked out of Florida Hospital Flagler just before 3 p.m., with a broken finger, a lot of bumps, bruises and lacerations and a sprained ankle, but no more serious injuries. He is reportedly pledging never to ride a motorcycle again.

Col. Jack Howell, the gruff, jovial retired Marine and founder of Teens-In-Flight, was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler late this morning with serious injuries he sustained after being slammed from behind by a car as he rode his motorcycle to a Teens-in-Flight fundraiser.

According to Charlie Ericksen, a friend and colleague of Howell’s–who witnessed the accident near the Black Cloud Saloon between 10 and 11 a.m.–Howell, 67, likely suffered a concussion, “a possible broken left hand and numerous scrapes and a severe laceration of the head.” Ericksen spoke by phone from just outside Howell’s room in the emergency department at the hospital, around noon.

Howell was riding his bike south on U.S. 1 when, slowing down to make a right turn into the Black Cloud and AmVets parking lot, a PT Cruiser–driven, ironically, by a neighbor of Howell’s–struck him, sending him several feet in the air before he hit the ground, careening into a set of black mailboxes by the side of the road. Howell was on his way to an annual fund-raiser for Teens-in-Flight, a 70-mile motorcycle ride involving some 100 riders, with the AmVets location as a starting point.

“I heard this collision, and I immediately called him on his cell phone,” Ericksen said, referring to Howell, “and of course he didn’t answer. I told him hey, you’ve got to get up here, one of our riders may be injured. And of course it was him.” Ericksen made the connection when he realized the downed rider was wearing an LSU shirt–Howell’s signature school.

“He went at least 75 feet from the bike, hitting the road and ending up on three small on-the-ground mailboxes, and the bike continued 200 feet past him,” Ericksen said. He was able to speak to Howell at the scene. Howell was not only coherent. “He was as ornery as he normally is,” Ericksen said, though that belied the severity of the injuries of the veteran Marine and father of six.

“He was bloody from his head to the end of his fingers,” Ericksen said.

The driver of the PT cruiser, not yet identified, was cited for a road violation for running into Howell, according to Ericksen.

About an hour and a half after the accident, and after he’d spent much of that time by Howell’s side at the hospital, Ericksen said: “It looks better than it did when they boarded him up at the accident scene.”

The motorcycle ride went off as scheduled, slightly late.

A resident of Palm Coast for 21 years, Howell, an ex-police chief, founded Teens-in-Flight to give poorer children in Palm Coast and Jacksonville a chance to learn to fly and earn their pilot license. Howell, himself a pilot who loves to take friends and local celebrities up for spins in his Cessna, is known for his commanding personality and horse-powered humor, and his outsized devotion to the students in his program.

25 Responses for “Col. Jack Howell, Teens-In-Flight Leader, Is Seriously Bloodied in Motorcycle Accident”

  1. Layla says:

    So sorry to hear this. Get well soon, Col. Howell! We are praying for you.

    Suggestion: How about a little less campaigning by our local peace officers and a little more enforcement right now.

    Is is just me or are we racking up accidents and fatalies here at an alarming rate? What’s the problem and let’s do something to stop it.

    • PCgirl says:

      This accident was caused by a driver not paying attention or following to closely behind the motorcycle. Law enforcement cant be everywhere at every given moment! Geez!!!!

  2. Prayers for Jack to be on the mend!

  3. Colleen Walsh Conklin via Facebook says:

    Please pray for Jack – he is a good soul!

  4. Kari Anne via Facebook says:

    Oh no! I did a story on him a few years ago and he has a great heart. I hope he heals up fast and well; Flagler needs him.

  5. Donna Heiss says:

    I am so sorry to hear this!

    I am wishing you a speedy recovery!

  6. palmcoaster says:

    Wish Speedy Recovery for Jack!

  7. roco says:

    Semper Fi Jack.. I wish you all the luck and prayers to get you through this..

  8. Jenn-Dom Di Geronimo via Facebook says:

    I pray for a speedy recovery.

  9. Cindy D. says:

    I just spoke to Col. Jack and he’s sounds great. Thank goodness he’s okay. He is nearly a one-man show for those kids at Teens-N-Flight and that program wouldn’t be successful without him. Thanks for all you do Jack and thank you Flagler Live for reporting the news so quickly!

  10. Sending prayers your way Col. Jack. Get well soon, the kids need you!

  11. Ralph Belcher says:

    @Layla; I’m sure an LEO would put his squad car betwen the inattentive PT Cruiser driver and The Colonel. I’m failing to see, in a practical sense, how running for office would of prevented this. Unless it was a campaign worker on duty to put up a sign or banner, running down the road 50 mph over the limit.

    It comes down to individual responsibility to prevent these senseless auto accidents. If, God forbid I ran something over (or someone), It would be my own fault.

  12. Here’s to a speedy recovering Col. Howell.

  13. Todd says:

    Get better soon Mr Howell! I sold my bike last year because I have witnessed too many accidents. I don’t care how alert you are, there are just too many a holes on the road down here in FL.
    Again, get better soon!

  14. Geezer Butler says:

    From now on: A strong car or truck with A/C and airbags for the Colonel.
    You need a good defense here from the distracted drivers that are far too common on these roads.
    They are the new norm, it seems….

    Col. Howell, I wish you a super-speedy recovery!
    I hope that I can have the pleasure of meeting you one day.

    Hats off to you.

  15. Heather Beaven says:

    Has anyone checked the pavement? The Col is no one to tangle with. We love you Marine!

  16. someone says:

    He got stitches on his head too because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.

  17. Anonymous says:

    prayers for a speedy recovery!

  18. Ralph Belcher says:

    Met the Colonel on Friday, didn’t know about the motorcycle deal Saturday, would of made an effort to participate. Wish you a very speedy recovery. He one sturdy bird, and I’m confident we’ll see him taking countless teens and local officals aloft in no time. You are a credit to our nation and to our community!

  19. Jack Howell says:

    First and foremost, I want to thank God for taken care of me. Guess God is not ready for me yet. He has not changed my mission. I clearly see path that is marked on my GPS!

    I want you all to know that this has been an interesting ordeal. I am very lucky to be alive….battered up, sore, and with a few stitches, I’m on the mend. I give kudos to the Bunnell Police Department, Bunnell Fire/Rescue, Palm Coast Fire/Rescue and the Flagler County Fire Rescue and of course my buddies at AMVET Post 113. I was not an easy patient to handle. That’s Marine Corps fight in me…Ya think? My super lady and beautiful wife Samantha, is doing her best to help me heal.

    I am very touched by the comments posted on Flagler Live and on my Facebook pages. I did not think anybody really cared for me as I’m just another guy in the community. Thank you for caring as your kind notes are the energy I need to get my rear end in gear and take care of my kids…Teens-In-Flight. Apparently, God must want me to continue my efforts with my Teens-In-Flight program.

    Next time I go flying, after the FAA clears me medically, I’ll open my plane window, touch the face of God and thank him.

    Once again, thank you all for your concerns about me. I will be back…a little sore and with a lot more wisdom!

    Semper Fi.

  20. agnese says:

    Mr. Howell, glad you’re on the mend:)

    With bike weeks soon upon us, I fear this will happen again. On a beautiful day with light traffic there is no reason not to pay attention, the driver of the PT cruiser was more interested in looking at his fender than seeing to Mr. Howell. Perhaps the idea of retesting older drivers should be revisited !

  21. Phyllis says:

    See, Jack, there IS a God!!?? :)
    Prayers anfd good wishes to you!!

  22. palmcoaster says:

    What about we all here send some contribution (whatever we may afford) to the Colonel’s Teens- in -Flight fundraiser? A little help from many can become a big contribution to few and we know that 100% will go to the kids. Any address we can mail to, Jack?

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