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Shirley Nethery, 77, Dies After Mistakenly Driving Her Car Down a Hammock Boat Ramp

| December 17, 2014

The boat ramp at the end of Pamela Parkway that Shirley Nethery likely mistook for a continuation of the road. (© FlaglerLive)

The boat ramp at the end of Pamela Parkway that Shirley Nethery likely mistook for a continuation of the road. (© FlaglerLive)

Shirley Nethery, a 77-year-old resident and president of Surfside Estates in Beverley Beach, died Tuesday evening after driving her car down a boat ramp and into the the Intracoastal Waterway.

The Florida Highway Patrol was dispatched to Pamela Parkway, off of A1A just north of Jungle Hut Road in the Hammock, at 8 p.m. “There s some witnesses to the crash so it was reported almost immediately,” an FHP spokesman said.

The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched top the scene at 7:48 p.m. FHP was dispatched at 8:02 p.m. and got there at 9 p.m. The body, the spokesman said, was found almost as soon as authorities got to the scene.

From all appearances, Nethery mistook the boat ramp for a continuation of Pamela Parkway, a narrow, unlit dirt road covered by a thick tree canopy. The road bears right into James Roy Avenue West just before a double lot, with houses on each side. But other than grass starting where the lots do, there is no delineation between the road and the grass, and in darkness it’s easy to mistake the grassy area as part of Pamela Parkway. Some 75 feet past that delineation, a concrete boat ramp descends into the Intracoastal. The boat ramp is aligned exactly with Pamela Parkway, and there are no barriers between it and the water.

Nethery, according to an FHP report, got out of her 2012 Buick Lacrosse after hitting the water, but between disorientation and darkness, she did not make it back to shore. She was found some time later in the water. The FHP report said she was found “a short distance from the vehicle.” Late into the night and early morning, authorities were still roping off nearby areas adjoining the Intracoastal Waterway, including areas adjacent to European Village.

Nethery lived in a house in Surfside Estates on Monitor Drive in Flagler Beach, just off A1A, six miles south of the crash site.

Nethery was a well-known and beloved presence around Surfside Estates, where she organized parties and participated in all sorts of activities in the 55-and-over community. At one point she’d been president of Surfside Estates, organizing ribbon-cuttings and giving Beverly Beach a bit more visibility whenever she could.

Aside from a punctured left rear tire, the Buick appeared undamaged, other that the water it had collected. It was retrieved by John’s Towing.

Flagler County’s code is vague on boat ramps. Except for waters adjacent to Bulow Creek, it states, “no dock, boat ramp, boathouse or other water-dependent structure shall be erected, constructed or placed. This prohibition does not apply to viewing platforms that are at least twenty-five (25) feet landward of the stream bank and elevated at least five (5) feet above existing grade. Existing structures that have been duly permitted prior to the effective date of this section may be maintained and repaired but not expanded or enlarged.”

Pamela Parkway, a dirt road off A1A, curves right  just before a residential lot, at the end of which is the boat ramp, which had no barriers. (© FlaglerLive)

Pamela Parkway, a dirt road off A1A, curves right just before a residential lot, at the end of which is the boat ramp, which had no barriers. (© FlaglerLive)

Where Pamela Parkway veers into James Roy Avenue West. (© FlaglerLive)

Where Pamela Parkway veers into James Roy Avenue West. (© FlaglerLive)

The Buick. (© FlaglerLive)

The Buick. (© FlaglerLive)

(© FlaglerLive)

(© FlaglerLive)

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32 Responses for “Shirley Nethery, 77, Dies After Mistakenly Driving Her Car Down a Hammock Boat Ramp”

  1. Jessica says:

    Praying for her family during this difficult time! We will miss seeing her smiling face and her sweet dog Muffy in our office. R.I.P. Ms. Shirley!

  2. Debbiehoops says:

    Why did it take the police one hour to get there can someone explain that please…so sad.

    [Note: The Sheriff’s Office was there within moments of the call to 911, as were Flagler County Fire Rescue units (Station 41 is nearby), which should have been mentioned in the body of the story; FHP, which conducted the homicide investigation, was there an hour later.–FL]

  3. confidential says:

    Only in Flagler County we have boat ramps at the end of a street with no warning signs and no barriers…what all these local governments do with the outrageous water front taxes we all pay instead of giving us the services we are paying for, like signs, barriers and periodical inspections of a boat ramp like this one. Of course that ramp is privately own the owner will be liable for this lady’s death, but could be prevented if like I say our taxes will be used as intended to pay our services other than buying overpriced real derelict real estate from well connected and overpaying non deserved no justified administrators salaries…

  4. barbie says:

    “FHP was dispatched at 8:02 p.m. and got there at 9 p.m” What took them so long? There were others on the scene right away according to this account, so I’m not sure FHP getting there faster would have made a difference, but that’s a really long time to respond, even driving from Bunnell to the Hammock.

    • Anonymous says:

      FHP only has 3-4 units working 2-3 county’s at any givin time. When I drove a tow truck I ask several of them why,and that’s what all of them told me.

  5. My thoughts says:

    Good reporting, as always, FlaglerLive. You seem to be pulling out some interesting facts that may be reports in and of themselves. For example, the FCSO arrives at the scene and calls FHP. Was any attempt made by FCSO to rescue anyone at that time? Was it judged to be a traffic fatality and FHP called in to do the report? And it took FHP, with its very limited manpower for a State of this size, 45 minutes to arrive? As Flagler County continues to grow, we will be able to rely less and less on FHP for what are essentially local problems.

  6. Judy Vanderoef says:

    As the manager of Surfside Estates, I can tell you that this is a great loss to the community. Shirley was currently serving as President of the board. She was compassionate, loving and wanted only the best for her neighbors in Surfside.

    My thoughts and prayers are with her family, friends and community at this difficult time.

    RIP Shirley and Muffy, I will miss you.

    Judy Vanderoef

    • ken ratz says:

      so sorry to hear of shirleys passing. she was a fine and giving person. knowing her when i was a member at surfside years ago was a pleasure. she was a dear friend who will be missed. ken ratz

  7. Nancy Walsh says:

    I knew Shirley quite well and need to fix an error, she was president of the Surfside ROC, not former president. She was a kind and giving person who worked extremely hard to make Surfside the wonderful community it is today. She was my friend and I, along with many others, will miss her cheerful smiles and wonderful personality.. I pray that she is RIP and with her brothers who predeceased her.

  8. Anonymous says:

    My sincere condolences to the family and friends of this much beloved woman. Rest in peace.

  9. neverwas says:

    This brings a question up to my mind. Should we start retesting drivers as they reach a certain age? Was vision or reaction time a factor? a couple years a go a 77 year old woman crashed into publix on Belle Terre and injured a lot of people. I think it is time we start retesting drivers here in Florida as they age.

  10. Heather says:

    I can see the FCSO needing a few minutes to get there.. and even FHP taking awhile to get to an investigation scene. It doesn’t take a weak swimmer long to drown, so they may not have helped her anyhow. The part I didn’t understand, is that it stated there were witnesses to the accident and she was able to escape the vehicle, but lost her way. They found her right away near the vehicle. Why did the witnesses not help her out of the car and water, and why not even pull a vehicle over to the ramp with their headlights on so she at least new what direction to go? Civilian witnesses can also be first responders, as they are immediately on the scene. How sad. Hopefully roping off all of the waterways all night is a sign that they’re going to make some major safety changes. A little late.. but maybe it will save someone else.

  11. Jackie Nethery says:

    Shirley was my sister-in-law for over 48 years, I just spent a very special week with her and had the opportunity to once again see several of her special friends. We saw the lights in St. Augustine, played cards and she and I spent 3 days in Orlando, one at Epcot. I thank God I was able to be with her, relax and have some fun we both needed. Shirley was the youngest of eight children and the last one to move on up to Glory Land. I’m sure she was welcomed with open arms. She will be missed by many, many of us that she left behind. We will “See her down the road”.

    • Anonymous says:

      There I no doubt in my mind that Shirley, will definitely be welcomed with open arms by Our Lord, Jesus Christ!
      Surfside estates won’t be the same without her.
      We’re are very sorry for her families loss, and ours! Our prayers are with her.

    • Anonymous says:

      Jackie, please accept my heart felt condolences. Shirley will be missed but never forgotten as she was such a special lady.

    • Judy clay says:

      Jackie prayers go out to you and the family. Shirley was a special person and will be missed. Surf side will not be the same without her. I will miss seeing her each morning when we all walk our dogs. I know she had a great time with you in Orlando .

    • Shirley was my mom’s aunt I believe. Sounds like she was a wonderful lady.

  12. Confused says:

    If there were witnesses to the accident and she was able to exit the car, why did she drown? Couldn’t the witnesses do anything to help? I bet they would have helped if it had been their mother.

  13. Seminole Pride says:

    Many years ago this happened one night at the PC Marina. A driver of a car mistaken the boat ramp for the road, and the driver drove into the canal and he and the occupants perished.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Please understand no one witnessed this, the witness heard the calls for help coming from the channel of a very dark river. 911 was called as soon as the calls for help were heard, and the car was seen at the edge of the ramp. FCSO quickly arrived and his spot light was able to see the person, a kayak was launched, but a firefighter arrived, and immediately jumped in and rescued Ms.Nethery. This ramp is county owned and used by the homeowners in the area. Ms. Nethery got out of the vehicle in less than a foot of water and proceeded out into the river, away from the lights on her own vehicle, and neighboring docks. This was a very sad accident and our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends, but please be assured, everything possible was done to help her once the incident was discovered.

  15. Ellen Karp-Bendana says:

    As a new resident of Surfside, Shirley was such a loving and welcoming person. I am so saddened by her passing, and wish I had known her longer. ….yet even in the short time I had the honor of knowing her, it was obvious what a special person she was. RIP and may all her family find comfort in knowing how loved and respected she was.

  16. Jim & Phyllis Weaver says:

    How sad. We have spent the last 22 winters at Surfside Estates and knew Shirley really well . Always had a hug for me. We will miss her. RIP in peace Shirley.

  17. Patti Bernhardt says:

    The last time we visited my father at Surfside, my grandson took quite a liking to Miss Shirley. He insisted on visiting her before we left for home. She was always a welcoming and friendly face whenever we visited. Sending prayers for her family and community.

  18. Carole & GUS Mazzocca says:

    SHIRLEY was a kind, loving and thoughtful person. She will be missed very much. We will never forget her smile and friendship. Our thoughts & prayers are with her and her family. GOD BLESS HER!

  19. Paula says:

    Shirley Nethery was a wonderful person, beautiful neighbor and a loving friend. Our family will always be grateful for her warmth and cheerful, helpful disposition. What a privilege to have her in our lives – sincere condolences to her family and all those who loved her. We loved her. Paula, Doug, Irene Landry

  20. Jane Gerker says:

    Shirley was my friend and I loved her. I and many others knew her night driving vision was very poor, so she seldom drove at night. What a tragedy that she tried to drive herself home on Tuesday night.
    I wish to extend my condolences to all of Shirley’s family. . . And to her many friends. Shirley gave of her time for all of us here in Surfside; she gave us love, sometimes in the form of zuchinni bread or a plate of cookies. She smiled often, offered comfort when needed. Shirley was the best, the very best. I already miss her presence here in my neighborhood, and Roy and I will miss her every day for a long time to come.

    Rest in peace, Shirley. It was a blessing to have known you. Jane

  21. Kris Lyle says:

    Rest In Peace Dear Aunt Shirley. You will be missed by everyone. The only thing that makes this slightly easier to accept. Is knowing the joy on the faces of your family as they welcomed you home to heaven. Give them all our Love and many hugs. <3

  22. Al & Barb Fink says:

    We just heard the sad news about Shirley’s ‘passing’!…We have a home at Surfside, but live in New York State. We regularly saw Shirley in the Office & out walking Muffy…She was one of the original residents …….always had a smile & a friendly ‘hello’. We will miss her ……..

  23. someone says:

    So it was reported immediately but no did anything. Figures they prolly had their cameras out and twitting. Stupid bystanders.

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