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Road Fatalities Rise Again in Flagler in 2011, to 24, As Pedestrian Kill Rate Exceeds Orlando’s

| January 11, 2012

The roadside memorial for Kirt Smith, who was 15 when he was killed after he was struck by an SUV while riding his bike south on Seminole Woods Boulevard in August. (© FlaglerLive)

Twenty-four people were killed on Flagler County roads in 2011, one more than in the previous year and eight more than in 2009. The fatalities were especially steep among pedestrians. The rise contrasts with Florida’s road fatalities, which continued to fall in 2011, to 2,373, a decrease of 71 from the previous year, and of 190 from 2009, according to preliminary figures released today by the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

In Flagler, 31 road-related deaths were recorded in 2008, and 30 in 2006.

Florida’s road fatalities are at their lowest since 1978, even though the state’s population has doubled since. The DMV attributes crash-fatality declines to greater safety awareness. But miles traveled on state roads have also fallen significantly since the onset of the real estate crash in 2007: fewer people are holding jobs, fewer construction trucks are traveling the roads, fewer pedestrians are walking to and from work in a state that leads the nation in the proportion of pedestrians killed.

Four Florida metropolitan areas rank as the most dangerous pedestrian regions in the nation, with the Orlando-Kissimmee region topping the danger list and logging 550 pedestrians killed from 2000 to 2009, the paper reported, an annual fatality rate of 3 per 100,000.

That rate was exceeded by Flagler County in 2011, where at least four pedestrians were killed in 2004, in a county with a population of less than 96,000. In other words, the Palm Coast-Flagler County area was more dangerous for pedestrians than the most dangerous metropolitan region in the country.

The pedestrians killed include Jigme Norbu, the 45-year-old nephew of the Dali Lama who had managed to walk almost 8,000 miles on 19 walks across the globe (for peace in Tibet) only to be killed by a driver in the darkness of State Road A1A in the Hammock in the early evening of February 14, Valentine’s day, on the first day of what would have been his Florida Walk for Peace. There is a sidewalk on A1A, but Norbu, who was walking south along the white line on the opposite side of the road, had apparently not seen it.

Alex Taylor, a 54-year-old transient, was killed as he walked along his bike in the bike lane in Bunnell, opposite the Government Services Building, the early morning of Sept. 27, in a hit-and-run that has not been solved. Police believe he was hit by something protruding from a truck, and that the truck driver may not have been aware.

Another driver in an apparent hit and run killed 76-year-old Francoise Pecqueur as she did what she’d been doing for years–walking her dog on Columbia Lane in Palm Coast in early evening. She was struck by Jamesine Fischer, the 55-year-old wife of Flagler County School Board member John Fischer, who left the scene of the accident and informed authorities that her PT Cruiser may have involved in the fatal accident only 12 hours later. That investigation is continuing.

And on Nov. 30, Josefina Reid, a 54-year-old resident of Palm Coast and dedicated jogger in the Seminole Woods area, was killed when a driver, distracted by his children in the backseat, struck her in broad afternoon daylight as Reid jogged south on Sesame Boulevard. It was the second road fatality in three months in Seminole Woods: On Aug. 26, Kirt Smith, a 15-year-old boy riding the bicycle he’d received for his upcoming 16rth birthday, was killed by a passing pick-up truck while riding south on Seminole Boulevard.

In Reid’s, Pecqueur’s and Smith’s cases, there were no sidewalks.

“Walking in this car-obsessed state,” the New York Times wrote in August, “can be as tranquil as golfing in a lightning storm. Sidewalks are viewed as perks, not necessities. Crosswalks are disliked and dishonored. And many drivers maniacally speed up when they see someone crossing the street.”

The deaths of Reid, Pecqueur and Smith (Taylor’s death was mostly ignored) prompted an outcry from Seminole Woods residents and others who launched a petition to “light up Palm Coast”
and appeared before the Palm Coast City Council to demand sidewalks in Seminole Woods. Palm Coast City Manager Jim Landon repeatedly addressed the matter, saying that Seminole Woods Boulevard is next in line for a sidewalk, but that there is no money for now. The last federal grants, part of the Obama stimulus package dating back to 2009, built the additional sidewalks along Belle Terre. Nothing stops the city council from assigning existing funds to a sidewalk project, or raising taxes in order to have the funds to do so, but the council, facing immense pressure from constituents against higher taxes, has mostly held the line on raising them.

Meanwhile, the state highway department on Wednesday took advantage of the lower fatalities across the state to highlight its ow role in the numbers.

“The Department’s No. 1 priority is to protect the lives and personal security of our residents and visitors through enforcement, service and education,” said the department’s Executive Director, Julie L. Jones. “While the six-year downward trend is encouraging, we continue our strategic efforts to drive down the number of crashes in Florida and the number of injuries and fatalities that come as a result.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among those age 5–34. Understanding that the leading cause of death for so many is preventable, the Director of the Florida Highway Patrol, Col. David Brierton, echoed Jones’ commitment to saving lives.

“The men and women of FHP patrol Florida’s highways 24/7 to make them safe,” said Florida Highway Patrol Director David Brierton. “Our law enforcement partners and public safety stakeholders are also important to the solution. Motorists can do their part, too, when they buckle up and drive sober.”

Department officials say they’re taking a strategic approach to making Florida’s roadways safe through education, licensing drivers, registering vehicles, and leveraging technology.

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20 Responses for “Road Fatalities Rise Again in Flagler in 2011, to 24, As Pedestrian Kill Rate Exceeds Orlando’s”

  1. Sandra Reynolds via Facebook says:

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to help with this sad situation. First, lower the speed limits. 30 mph is too fast for a neighborhood without sidewalks. It is only five mph lower than a portion of Old Kings Road, an open road with no housing. If the city can not afford better lighting, then dismantle all the wasteful lights along the empty Town Center road. They are only a few feet apart. ??? Educate bikers and pedestrians regarding rules of the road. I wonder how many know them. Ticket drivers who do not yield to pedestrians and bikers. P.S. I am still waiting for our speed limit sign for our street. What’s up with that Palm Coast?

  2. Melanie Schweizer via Facebook says:

    They need to get rid of the trees and bushes as well on Seminole Woods Prkwy. Cant see a thing with those bushy weeds that are suppose to be decorative, NOT!

  3. Angela Smith via Facebook says:


  4. Joe A says:

    My deepest condolences to all of the families that have suffered the loss of a loved one. I think it is about time that something is done to ensure safety on our roadways.

  5. Shae says:

    This is beginning to bother me deeply. Kirt was my brother. If people are continuing to die due to road issues and stuff, something should & needs to be done about it. I cant begin to even think what other people are going through. I cant even deal with losing my brother. It is a very hard situation and if there were sidewalks we wouldnt have this issue.

  6. I agree Sidewalks are the answer. I saw another person pushing a baby stroller down Belle Terre again! So dangerous!

    • Ben Dover says:

      Belle Terre already had a side walk on one side of the road, and the idiots on the planning board moved that one 3 times wasting millions of dollars . they could have used the money they wasted to put all them tree`s and shrubs that are blocking our view to see if any traffic is coming to help build sidewalks elsewhere. Now they`ve put in a second side walk on the other side of the road that could have been sidewalks somewhere else. How bout the sidewalks that go no where 3/4 of the way up to St Augustine on US 1, that could have been sidewalks that are actually needed, 3 people have died needlessly because these city planners are idiots wasting tax payers money. How do they plan to recoop it , by screwing us out of our hard earned paychecks with their rigged up red light camera`s and their kangaroo court thats how!!!!!!!

  7. Unfortunately many drivers do not look for or see motorcycles, bicycles, or pedestrians. Years of bad driving habits teaches drivers to look for other cars, but nothing else. This explanation is meant simply to offer a reason for why these things happen, and is not meant to justify negligent driving of any kind.

  8. Kimmy says:

    They could afford all the sidewalks down US 1 that nobody uses, and all that money for landscaping and bridges. That was a big waste of money, and they can afford to pay someone $110,000 to hopefully help the economy in Palm Coast. This is a great place to take advantage of the outdoors, and it turns out to be so dangerous to do so. Also, where are the cops when all these crazy drivers are speeding? I rarely see anyone getting pulled over for speeding, its seems like there are no rules here. They need to get a grip on keeping the people safe.

    • daveytickle says:

      It has been my experience that the ignorance of the pedestrian is also to blame for a lot of these so-called ‘accidents’.
      Oddly enough, just this morning while I was driving east on Moody Blvd. across from the Bunnell Post Office, the side of my van narrowly escaped being bashed in by a woman pushing a baby stroller. She was black-and EVERYTHING about her and that stroller was black!
      About two miles further east I passed a bicyclist under the exact same conditions, ie: pitch black darkness and NOTHING to indicate to a motorist that he/she is approaching a person or object on or near the roadway. It isn’t always the fault of the motorist!!
      However! The ignorance level of the majority of drivers in this area absolutely blows me away!
      No excuses!! These are mostly NOT accidents! They are simply the results of ignorance!

    • dontbesoparanoid says:

      Kimmy, A developer put those sidewalks in on US-1. City did not pay for it. I believe I read just recently that the city is looking to put sidewalks down in the “S” section. Sorry I don’t have any other details on it but perhaps FlagLive can check into it.
      As far as where are the cops…. unfortunately they cannot be everywhere. The way some people drive in this town is deplorable. It’s a wonder we don’t have more accidents than we do. Some people choose to take chances and make split second decisions that sometimes end bad and unless a cop is right there in the car to tell them not to do it, it is unavoidable.
      Those are the irresponsible drivers who think the roadway is theirs and screw everyone else. The not so funny thing is we would think it’s mostly our younger inexperienced drivers but it’s our older ones too. Sometimes it’s also just a matter of taking your eyes off the road for a second. So many distractions these days with cell phones, texting etc… I am for a law that bans it while driving. I’d also be for a law that bans driving with a dog in your lap. To me that is also an obstruction

  9. agnese says:

    Mr. Landon,
    If there is no money for sidewalks, who is paying for all the trees and shrubs that are popping up everywhere? The town council needs to get their priorities straight, safety before beauty!!

  10. Dorothea says:

    The sidewalks on both sides of Belle Terre are there so that kids can ride and walk safely to schools.

    However Palm Coast could improve safety for pedestrians and bicycles at bike paths where they cross major intersections. One suggestion is to adjust traffic lights so bike path users get more than a nanosecond to cross and not giving the moribund drivers a green light for a right turn at the same time giving a cross signal to to bike path users. It’s a rare driver who knows that a pedestrian in the whilte striped crosswalks has the right-of-way.

  11. JL says:

    In the matter of Smith, the teenager, I believe he was killed by a drunk driver, but the driver was not cited for killing him. The police blamed the child instead. I feel that was wrong, drunk is drunk and he never should have been on the road. If he wasn’t, the child would still be around. We do need more sidewalks. But then, look at the person who was hit because he walked in the street instead of the sidewalk. Everyone needs to pay attention, bikers, walkers, AND drivers. And they need to be held responsible for their actions. I’m sorry to hear about all that have died as a result of drivers. If you walk, run, ride bikes after dark, please have a safety vest – one that glows. Do not drive intoxicated. And if you do walk or run, do it on the sidewalks. NOT the roads (if there is a sidewalk available.)

  12. SSDD says:

    If concrete sidewalks are so expensive, why don’t they just do like they are doing down Whiteview Pkwy & across White Mill? They are making the VERY wide blacktop bike paths. Why can’t they do this along the East side of Seminole Woods against the tree line so everyone can get up to Citation and go down to Sesame to use the new sidewalk when it is built? Oh I know why, because the W Section deserves all the money and paths and screw the rest of Palm Coast… It was only after a school was built that they decided to put a sidewalk down Rymfire. Prior to that, they did the norm, built a nice park, but no way for kids to get to it… The safety of it’s citizens are not the priority of the City of Palm Coast. If it was, PRO-active things would be done, not RE-active…

  13. Gia says:

    If some people want side walk they need to move somewhere else. This town was build without side walk as a retirement area & to get the minimum tax.

  14. JP says:

    They are missing the real issue here…sidewalks?…..when you dumb a$$ city planner designed the roads in this city, you made no shoulders…the white lines are right at the edge of the road….which mean walkers, runners and bikers will be in traffic. This is what happens when your leaders a fat lazy slobes….they dont get the need…..Flagler county is a fitness unfriendly city…..we need younger fitter leaders that understand the needs of a fitter society. Advise: If you want to stay alive in flagler county…..walk, run, or ride a bike against traffic….

  15. Layla says:

    It is dark early now and I cannot tell you how many are out in dark clothing, including strollers, with NO lights. That is one good way to get yourself killed.

    The other night I passed someone in an electric wheelchair on the side of the road, pitch black, dark clothing out on US 1.

    Use common sense, please. Wear WHITE, put reflectors on everthing and carry a light or mount it on your bike.

    People are dying because they are not visible in the dark. Also, if you have a dog to walk, do it in the daylight and walk against the traffic so you can see cars coming.

  16. Jake says:

    layla- its not safe anywhere in this town, not even going against traffic. i hgad a car come within a foot of my handle bars

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