A memorial for Deborah Dunn will be held on the beach in the Hammock on July 30.
Deborah I. Dunn, 63, was killed Wednesday evening as she rode her bicycle on U.S. 1 just south of the intersection with Belle Terre Boulevard when she was struck from behind by a Nissan pick-up. Dunn was pronounced dead at the scene by a Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedic at 7:05 p.m.
She is the second cyclist killed on Flagler County roads this year. Three motorcyclists have also been killed, and several cyclists have been critically injured on various roads.
The circumstances Dunn’s death Wednesday evening were similar to those that led to the death of Frederick Martinez, the 51-year-old Flagler Beach resident killed on State Road 100 on April 3: both cyclists were inside the white-lined shoulder, and both were struck by oversize vehicles swerving into the shoulder. Both were killed in broad daylight.
A Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene said Dunn was riding north, as was Leila Gould, the 30-year-old driver of a black Nissan pick-up truck, who was driving with her husband Bodie Opel, 34, and two young children, toward west Bunnell. The investigator said at some point, for unknown reasons, Gould’s SUV served briefly past the paved shoulder and into the grass, leaving fresh, black tire marks that the investigator was able to collect from the grass there, then back onto the shoulder where, a few feet north, the collision with the cyclist took place. (The children were taken away from the scene by a friend or relative about 45 minutes after the collision.)
Impact left clearly visible gashes made in rough parallel lines into the pavement by the rim of the bicycle and its pedal crank. The gashes were in the center of the narrow shoulder lane often used by bikers, though unlike the actual bike lane on State Road 100, the shoulder on U.S. 1 is not a bike lane.
Dunn was on an older purple and black Huffy Stone Mountain bicycle. She was struck from behind by the front right end of the pick-up, which was severely damaged. Dunn’s head struck the bottom right of the front windshield, causing a deep cavity there. She was either catapulted or dragged a long way before her body fell to the ground, almost 150 feet from the point of impact. Investigators said she had no chance, and likely never knew what struck her. She was not breathing when police and paramedics were called to the scene.
The Palm Coast Fire Police closed both lanes of U.S. 1 northbound for a one-mile stretch south of the intersection with Belle Terre. Traffic on U.S. 1 southbound was not affected. All lanes reopened at 9:36 p.m.
Dunn had been riding her bike in part because her driver’s license had been revoked. A native of Kentucky, she had a home in Sarasota, and though FHP listed an address for her in Jacksonville, where she’s never had a house, she was, in fact, staying with her son in Palm Coast, on Kaywood Street. She was only a few blocks from her home, returning from the store, when she was struck. She had one son, she had raised her sister’s children as her own, and she had two grandchildren.
Gould voluntarily submitted to a blood test, but was not believed to be under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, and was not on prescription medication, an investigator at the scene said. A Fire Rescue unit returned to the scene around 9 p.m. to conduct the blood test.
The violence and consequence of the impact could be glimpsed from the debris and various items that fanned out like shrapnel from the point at which the victim was struck: scattered sheets of last Sunday’s News-Journal surrounding the twisted bike, a right-foot, black and white sneaker 20 feet north from the bike, well into the grassy shoulder, the left sneaker some 30 feet away from its twin in the opposite direction, on the pavement, several shards of plastic and glass from the front of the pick-up, a Diet Coke bottle, an empty beer can, more newspapers, and finally, at a distance from the bike equivalent to that between two utility poles, the body of the victim, in the grass on the east side of the road, wrapped in a white and yellow tarp.
The medical examiner had arrived at the scene at 8:15 p.m., and removed the body by 9 p.m. John’s Towing removed the bicycle and the Nissan pick-up truck shortly afterward. The investigation continues, and charges are pending.