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Hit-and-Run: More Doubt Than Urgency in Fischers’ Call to Sheriff’s Non-Emergency Line

| March 1, 2012

The area of the collision. (© FlaglerLive)

By early morning on Nov. 11, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office was under no illusions that what had felled 76-year-old Francoise Pécqueur on Columbia Lane in Palm Coast hours earlier had been a hit-and-run.

“We gave you a THI that was a hit-and-run,” the dispatcher tells a fellow-dispatcher at the Florida Highway Patrol, using the acronym for a Traffic Homicide Investigation. “We found the driver,” the sheriff’s dispatcher continues, referring to Jamesine Fischer, who’s facing a felony charge for leaving the scene of an accident with a death involved. (The THI was earlier incorrectly reported as a “traumatic head injury.”)

Click On:

It was just past 5:30 a.m. on Nov. 11. Fischer’s husband—the Flagler County School Board member—had just called a non-emergency line at the sheriff’s office. He spoke with the dispatcher, who identified herself as Candice.

“Yeah,” John Fischer says, in a recording just released by the State Attorney’s office, “how do I go about Candice is that, um, my wife had a accident last—well she thinks she had an accident last evening, and, um, anyhow, how do we go about making report or, does the sheriff’s office come out so that we can have a report?”

As Fischer speaks, the faint sound of something like lively conversation and laughter is audible in the background. It’s not clear if that’s from the dispatcher’s end or the Fischers’ end.

“What do you mean by she thinks she had an accident yesterday?” the dispatcher asks.

“Well,” John Fischer says to his wife, “go ahead, she’s on the phone,” and Jamesine starts talking, apparently from a second receiver.

It had been almost 12 hours since Pécqueur had been struck by Jamesine’s PT Cruiser.

“Um, I was driving down, um, Columbia, how can I explain, anyway,” she starts. “Um, I was driving down and I heard a thud, and I thought I hit a dog, and then when I got out of the car, I pulled over, when I got out of the car there was a lady laying there, um, and I thought she had fallen and the dog was free, and I had hit the dog, and the Evac came, and you know, um—“

“So did you stay on scene there?”

“I did, and nobody came, I mean, Evac was there and they took the woman.”

“Did you tell them that you thought you may have hit her?” the dispatcher asks.

“I didn’t realize it until afterward because, um, I was going to a neighbor’s house down the road and when I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, that was the first time I noticed that my windshield had shattered.”

The Fischers’ Call to the Sherifff’s Office
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Fischer, in other words, explaining why she did not mention the collision to medical personnel at the scene, had realized that she may have hit Pecqueur not long after the collision, when she parked her car at the house of the friend she was visiting that evening. She is then asked for her current location, and Fischer gives her home address.  She identifies herself as Jamie Fischer.

“OK, all right, we’ll have an officer come out, OK ma’am?”

“OK, thank you,” Fischer responds, with an oddly jovial tone. The conversation ends.

The Fischer call was not made to 911, but to the sheriff’s non-emergency line. It was placed apparently moments after John Fischer had called Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming at his home, seeking advice, according Fleming, who then told him to hang up and call 911.

The recordings shed some additional light on a case increasingly complicated by the prominence of John Fischer in the community, the extent to which the sheriff got involved with Fischer in the 36 to 48 hours immediately after the accident, as a friend, according to Fleming—there were at least six telephone conversations between the two—and Fleming’s refusal to release more precise records of those conversations. What is known is that soon after Fischer spoke with Fleming, he secured Stephen Alexander, the same attorney the sheriff had retained to defend the sheriff’s son in a minor drug case.

Alexander is building a defense around the words of Jamesine Fischer in that call to the sheriff’s office, and to people at the scene: that she thought she’d hit a dog, not a woman. Alexander retained Simpson Consulting and Investigative Services to conduct a private investigation soon after the incident. The four-page investigation was written on Nov. 29. The investigator describes photographing the PT Cruiser at Roger’s Towing in Bunnell on Nov. 15, five days after the incident. “I photographed every blemish, scratch or crack that was visible,” the investigator reported. “Although I photographed the vehicle I found nothing that was attributable to a recent impact. Nonetheless, the entire hood, front bumper, right fender, windshield and right door were photographed a second time.” Oddly, the report makes no mention of the front windshield, visibly cracked at length on the right side from the bottom to the top, in a slight curve as the crack goes up—what Jamesine Fischer herself had reported to the sheriff’s office as her windshield that had “shattered.”

The report draws on interviews with Fischer and several people at the scene of the accident who lived nearby, but not the paramedics at the scene, who were barred from speaking to the private investigator (they spoke to law enforcement). To the private investigator, Jamesine Fischer said that she’d been driving at around 6 p.m. with her headlights on, at an estimated speed of no more than 30 miles per hour, when “she heard something strike her vehicle.” She drove on some 30 or 40 feet then pulled over and got out, and walked back to the area where she’d heard the thud.

“There,” the report states,” she observed a body lying adjacent to the culvert of the driveway. She states she called out words to the effect are you alright? Getting no response she next kneeled down and shook the female lying on the ground. She still did not receive any response. She said she could see what she believed to be blood coming from the right side of the subject’s mouth. She said she turned the subject’s head to the right in an effort to preclude any potential breathing problems.” She then “hollered ‘this lady has fallen and is hurt, someone call 911,’” the report states, and that “in the commotion” she heard someone call 911.

The report is at odds with Jamesine Fischer’s arrest report filed by the Florida Highway Patrol, which, after stating that “Mrs. Fischer attempted to mislead medical personnel and bystanders at the scene as to the events of the crash by leading them to believe that there had been no collision but that Mrs. Pecqueur had fallen,” described the scene this way: “The first witness to see Mrs. Fischer at the scene was Jules Proctor, who lived near the location of the incident. Mr. Proctor was driving in the area when he observed a small white dog standing in the road and he noticed that the dog appeared to be frightened. The dog was on a leash that had a handle on it. He stopped his vehicle and got out. He then observed a lady (Mrs. Fischer) standing in the shadows. He yelled over to Mrs. Fischer, asking her if everything was alright. In response, he heard some mumbling and it didn’t sound right to him. He grabbed the dog’s leash and moved closer to where Mrs. Fischer was standing. At that point, he observed an older lady (Mrs. Pecqueur) laying on the ground on her back, bleeding. Mr. Proctor then asked Mrs. Fischer if she had called 911 and she mumbled no and so he called 911.” The FHP report also notes that once FHP investigators saw the PT Cruiser, they noticed “damage consistent with a vehicle striking a person.”

Police reports in charging affidavits are written with prosecution in mind: the details have to support a case for prosecution. Private investigators’ reports on behalf of defense attorneys are written with the defense in mind: they would more likely focus on exculpatory evidence. The two sides then make their case in court.

The private investigator report goes on to describe the Fischers’ call to the sheriff’s office, saying that at approximately 4:30 or 5 a.m. the morning of Nov. 11, John Fischer called the sheriff’s office—the report does not specify that it was the non-emergency line—“and advised them that his wife may have been involved in an accident; however; she was not sure.” The private investigator’s report notes that John Fischer “provided a description of her vehicle and an approximate location the accident may have occurred,” though there is no record of Fischer himself providing that information in the calls released by the State Attorney’s office.

The private investigator’s report narrates the results of interviews with three additional witnesses at the scene, but not Proctor. One witness, Helen Westenberg, whose house was near the collision scene, said she saw Fischer ask Pecqueur whether she was alright, kneel down, touch her, then rise up again and say that Pecqueur had fallen and needed help. Westenberg later describes the presence of just four persons at the scene, other than Pecqueur—herself, the 911 caller, and a mother and  from across the street.

The mother and daughter, Kathrine Kasprzak and Kathrine Skora, “said Jamesine Fischer repeatedly stated her name was Irene,” according to the private investigator’s report. :The two were adamant regarding that fact.” The investigator adds his opinion: “However, I do not think it would be a great leap, especially under the circumstances, to confuse Jamesine with Irene.” Jamesine Fischer also goes by “Jamie,” as she did during the call to the sheriff’s office.

At no point in any of the reports–the FHP’s, the private investigator’s–or the call to the sheriff’s office is the question raised about Jamesine Fischer’s central explanation for her acts: she thought she hit a dog, and that Pecqueur had, coincidentally, fallen, but the dog, a tiny poodle that could easily be squashed by a boot, let alone a car tire, was witnessed by several people at the scene, healthy and unhurt, if scared. The vehicle could not have hit the dog and left it unscathed.

19 Responses for “Hit-and-Run: More Doubt Than Urgency in Fischers’ Call to Sheriff’s Non-Emergency Line”

  1. roco says:

    Some more illusions. If what she said is factual she was stoned and/or drunk.. No person with their faculties can make these stupid statements and expect anyone to believe this stuff.. You do the crime, you do the time…

  2. Gia says:

    She knew exactly what happened & tried to covered up with excuses.

  3. bunnell boy says:

    Well said roco. This lady said she thought she hit the ladies dog, but when she gets out to check the dog is sitting there and the woman is laying in the grass. How stupid can someone be. With any luck justice will be done this time. this is a cover up pure and simple.

  4. Jim N says:

    One thing that most here will not understand is that part of a Florida Traffic Homicide Investigation, is that the whereabouts and actions of all parties involved must be documented in detail by the minute for the previous 24 hours.

    A motor vehicle traveling 30-40 mph and striking a person in the 95 lb range, especially a glancing blow as appears to be described in the reports I’ve seen in the news media, does not always cause a lot of damage to vehicle parts. I am surprised though that no one has mentioned the condition or position of the passenger side rear view mirror in any of the reports.

    If it was a side impact, or glance, then in all likely hood you would expect some cloth impressions or broken parts on that part of the vehicle, especially since it protrudes from the body of the car. There are a great many details that go into Traffic Homicide Investigations, and in fact Florida requires extra training with that expertise specifically before any officer can work them. (Any fatal crash, or with serious injury where there is a likely hood someone may die at a later date)

    Although it is not reasonable to believe that someone could be involved in this type of accident, and not know it, stranger things have in fact happened. I’d bet anyone reading this with more than 5 years of driving experiance has at sometime heard a thud and looked around or wondered “What was that” and not seeing anything continued on.

    It would also be smart to realize that Mrs. Fischer made this call, at like 5:30 am. I am not sure there was any news items published about the incident yet, so her call was likely based on the realization later that she had infact struck that lady. It may in fact be a terrible mishap, with no ill intentions, but it has sure escalated from there, likely because her husband is an elected school board official and that is all. Being a public official, does hold you to a higher standard, but it shouldn’t make you a sinister evil does looking for a favor with everything you do.

    This is a terrible situation, and there are answers about intentions that must come out, but burning people at the stake for those answers, is or should be a crime of itself.

    Not behind every door is there always an evil and sinister plot, sometimes things happen and it is a mistake with no evil intent. Sometimes it is not. That is what we pay the lawyers to do, find out the truth.

  5. Really says:

    The more that is said, the worse it sounds, and looks for Fischer’s. Why was John Fisher calling the Sheriffs private line instead of his wife calling 911? Did John think it would not be recorded? Take the high road John…..

  6. ANONOMOUSAY says:

    Her husband and the Sheriff belong to the same Social Club sharing a close relationship. A relationship so close it resulted in one vouching for the other to gain entry into said Social Club.

  7. Ben Dover says:

    I just love the other article here , that Palm Coast has decided there are too many street lights in this town and are going to take 41 of them away , lets just hope its every other one on Pine Lakes Parkway and Matanzas Woods Parkway , because these idiot need to put a crap load more in around this town so more people aren`t run over because there are no sidewalks, we had 3 people killed in this town this year due to no sidewalks and poor lighting , are they trying to double this amount next year by taking street lights away!!!!

  8. Think first, act second says:

    Jim N. What do you think the previous 24 hours will show up for Mrs. Fischer. What bar was she sitting in or what friends living room had she been drinking in. Obviously to me the reason she did not call 911 and report the accident is because she did not want a breathilizer test performed on her, A dollar to a peanut bet that she was smashed when she hit the lady and was not in full control of her facilities at the time and did not want a DWI accident which would carry a much higher charge, I think. She is definitely guilty of at least manslaughter, leaving the scene and possibly DWI if they can find the witnesses to substantiate the charges, IMO.

    • Jim N says:

      I do not know Mrs. Fischer and I would not speculate one way or the other as to what she had been doing.
      Unlike some here I try not to take WAG’s as to what could have been or contributing circumstances.

      One lesson I have learned though…..
      Assume = Ass/u/me

    • Ben Dover says:

      First off the guy that was right next to her said he smelled no alcohol, secondly this site and the newsjournal have said at least 10 times that she was on site all the way up till the ambulance took the victim away , so how is that hit and run when she was there the whole time.

  9. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    I find it somewhat appalling that for the most part everyone who has commented on the many stories on this site regarding this tragedy are all “experts” in how they and others would react when placed in an extremely stressful situation that no doubt when send a fair amount of people into a state of shock. Frankly not only do you have no idea how you would react , you have no idea how anyone would react in this situation, unless you’ve been in a similar situation.

    All the expert commentators have also turn rampant speculation as to what actually occurred that night into a fact based account as if they themselves where on the scene and had a birdseye view.

    Why is it automatically assumed that since Mrs Fischer likely hit the victim, that the victim shares no blame? The PI report described the victim as wearing dark pants, described the environment at the time as “dark”, and makes references to the lack of street lights and a curve in the road. I ask you how many times while driving in Palm Coast in the evening hours have you come up upon someone dressed in dark cloths, walking their dog and only saw them at the last minute? It happens to me almost on a nightly basis.

    Another incorrect assumption is that Mrs Fischer by “hitting and running” delayed the victims medical care and contributed to her death, when in reality both the FHP arrest report, (which was written many months after the crash), and the PI report (which was written a few days after the crash) as well as the interviews of the medics and the victims on the scene conclude that the ambulance personnel were on the scene within minutes of the crash. Not only that, but by all accounts Mrs Fischer stayed on the scene until the medics left with the victim. It’s not as if she hit the victim and kept driving.

    And the assumption that Mrs Fischer, in the seconds between when the victim was hit and the first witness arrived on scene, somehow manufactured an elaborate story about hitting the dog. Isn’t it very plausible that Mrs Fischer heard a thump, pulled over, and being as the dog was the first thing she saw when she opened her door, assumed that she may have hit the dog. Then she tries to determine why the dog is roaming the streets by itself still attached to a leash, and turns and sees a lady lying in a ditch in a split second rationalizes the lady fell earlier which CAUSED the dog to be roaming free in the road thus she hit the dog. Medics take the victim, Mrs Fischer gets back in her car drives to friends house and then notices the damaged windshield and then realizes, the dog being so low to the ground couldn’t have caused that damage, maybe she hit the victim? Panic and shock set in…..

    Finally the inference that because the Fischers waited 11 1/2 hours (not 12 as is continuously reported) to call and report that Mrs Fischer may have hit the lady, that delay somehow contributed to the victims medical injuries, even though medical personnel were on the scene within minutes and the victim had been transported to the hospital right away.

    I think when an objective person reads the statute Mrs Fischer is charged with, and compares it to the events as documented in both the FHP report and the PI investigation, it’s somewhat clear the Prosecution will not win a conviction on this case. At which point I have to ask why they brought charges in the first place, is it politically motivated?

    • hahahahaha says:

      johnny taxpayer-
      anyone in “their right mind” would call 911 themselves after coming across a women with blood coming from her nose and ears laying in a ditch . “A BROKEN WINDSHIELD WITH HAIR STUCK IN THE CRACKS is also a strong indicator that something must have happened from when she left her last stop a to when she stopped her car to see why a dog was wondering the streets and when she headed home to inform her husband that a poodle may or may not have tried to commit suicide by jumping in the air with a leash attached at the exact moment her car drove by. She should receive whatever she has coming to her and fleming should resign immediately.

  10. Johnny Taxpayer says:

    And frankly… why does it matter that the Fischer’s called the 386 sheriffs office number rather than 911? What point would their be to call the emergency number in order to report an event that happened many hours earlier?

  11. New Jersey says:

    Had this been a poor kid from Bunnell with saggy pants and gold teeth he would be under the jail not out on bond.
    He wouldn’t have been able to meet under the cover of darkness to turn his self in either.
    More than likely the swat team, with helicopter and dogs, would have splintered his door, pointed guns at everyone in the house and dragged him out in cuffs.

    I am giving odds of 2-1 that this lady doesn’t do a day. The so called jury of her peers will listen to her lawyer’s sob story and she will walk. The players change, the results are similar.

    There are two kinds of justice. Let us see which one we have here. So far the Sheriff is stonewalling however, the State Attorney, who is a republican, can compel him to testify. And yes the sub plot can become political.

  12. palmcoaster says:

    Fischer innocent..? Please!

  13. Out of curiosity says:

    How on earth could you think you had hit a dog (which winds up being fine) but not think you had anything to do with a woman lying in a ditch with blood coming out of her mouth?

  14. Donna says:

    The truth finally is out! Our Sheriff got a call from the Fischer’s 48 minutes after the accident. Call number one was about hitting an animal? What the hell were the other 6 calls about, the weather? For God’s sake people, we have just been lied to by our Sheriff. This sickens me. While it took 2 days for that woman to lay there and die, our Sheriff sat there and spewed lies to the press and did nothing. It appears that the Fischer’s did report the accident after all. There is an out cry in our community right now for this man’s resignation. As for the re-election campaign for this man? I believe that it has just come to an end. No yard sign purchasing, no radio ads, no campaign flyers, don’t pass go and don’t collect $200. The game is over folks.

  15. Ben Dover says:

    [Comment deleted. Please read the FlaglerLive comment policy.]

  16. Howard Duley says:

    I agree with New Jersey. Highly unlikely this woman will do a day. My vote definetly will not go to Flemming this time around. I wish I could get a free ticket to the Hammock.

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