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Driver at Origin of 2 Wrecks That Killed 6 People is Fined $1,000 and Loses License

| August 5, 2015

roy white fatal wreck i-95

Roy White during his hearing this morning before County Judge Melissa Moore-Stens, with Florida Highway Patrol investigators making the case against him. (© FlaglerLive)

Roy White, the 39-year-old Jacksonville resident whose wreck on I-95 in Palm Coast in June 2014 was at the origin of a series of crashes that resulted in the death of six people, was found guilty of a driving infraction today, fined $1,000 and had his license suspended six months.

One of the six people killed was 17-year-old Michael Smith, a passenger with White. Smith was ejected during the wreck and died at a hospital later. Also killed was Pamela Thor, 56, of St. Augustine. She was killed when White’s Chevy went airborne after hitting a guardrail and landed against Thor’s car, which was traveling in the opposite direction.

White appeared in court before County Judge Melissa More-Stens this morning. He was found guilty of failing to drive within his lane. He was visibly and audibly dejected immediately after the judge’s decision, shaking his head and calling the decision “bullshit” as he walked out of the courtroom. His attorney, Reid Hart, was also displeased after the judge rendered a decision without giving Hart a chance to make closing arguments, though by then both sides had presented their witnesses and made their case. “Wow,” Hart said, when Moore-Stens told him: “I’m going to find him guilty.”

White was at the wheel of a pick-up truck on June 1, 2014, with passenger Michael Smith, 17. They were driving north. According to White in court, he saw some debris in the road about a football field’s length from where he was and attempted to avoid it. When he did so, Smith for some reason took the wheel and the two men wrestled. White could not explain why, but claimed Smith was having issues and was on drugs.

james malta roy white

Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputy James Malta had to quickly intervene and ease Roy White out of the courtroom when White reacted with overt scorn for the verdict. (© FlaglerLive)

“I don’t know what happened,” White said, describing the incident as something that unfolded extremely rapidly. “Michael grabbed the steering wheel and we kind of fought.” He added: “I couldn’t get control of the truck, his hand was on the steering wheel.” Next thing he knew, he was hitting the guard rail. He had first swerved to the right shoulder’s emergency lane then overcorrected, sending the truck against, then over, the guard rail at such speed that it then flew against oncoming traffic–and Thor’s Honda, shearing off that car’s passenger compartment.

At one point a Florida Highway Patrol investigator asked him if, while struggling with Smith for the wheel, he’d let Smith know that he was in control. White said the incident unfolded too fast for such an exchange to take place. “Everything happened so fast,” he said. “It was a blur.”

“Do you typically announce to your passengers whenever you’re going to change lanes?” Hart asked him.

“No sir.”

“This makes no sense,” White said in court when Moore-Stens handed down the verdict. A bailiff, taking note of White’s demeanor, quickly got behind White and ushered him out of the courtroom.

The wreck had taken place near the intersection with Palm Coast Parkway. The Interstate was shut down in both direction for a period, and the southbound lanes remained shut down for hours. The wreck in Palm Coast caused a back up that stretched 12 miles into St. Johns County, setting up the next crash, which killed four people when a tanker truck rammed into stopped vehicles. The victims who died were Nilda Valentine Rivera, 41, of Palm Coast; Barbara Carol Pennington, 50, of Lakeland; Jonathan Jay Ruiz, a 1-year-old boy from Jacksonville, and Kristin J. Ruiz, 25, of Palm Coast.

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5 Responses for “Driver at Origin of 2 Wrecks That Killed 6 People is Fined $1,000 and Loses License”

  1. Patriot76 says:

    Yeah… This guy… Responsible for the deaths of six people including an infant (1 year old) and HE is the victim..

    I officially declare justice to be dead in this nation. The laws and rules governing our roadways is a national sham and shame. We all should be ashamed as Americans, especially those who continue the reckless behavior in spite of tragic stories like this one.

    The judge couldn’t hand out a criminal punishment unfortunately so this guy White got the only legal punishment he could be given. And still he feels like he is the victim…

    Other than the six dead victims, justice is the only other victim I see

  2. tulip says:

    Roy White was upset at the verdict!!!????? He should be bowing to the judge thanking her for the ridiculously tame verdict of only $1000 and a license suspension for being responsible for 6 deaths!

  3. Geezer says:

    Mr. White’s only regrets are the fine and loss of driving privileges.
    I can’t attach any value to his life – for he doesn’t value strangers lives either.
    He is a walking and talking pile of human detritus.

    What a joke of a legal system we have. We throw people who grow pot into prison,
    and allow this insensate creep to walk amongst us. He gets a slap on the wrist
    and audibly grumbles on his way out to freedom!

    How does one become so self-centered and disgustingly arrogant?
    Old Roy should spend some time in prison, but he’d bring down the neighborhood.

  4. liberal says:

    I bet Michael Smith would have been a great witness to what really happened. But we will never know, because he died too.
    Too bad the Judge didn’t have the guts to hold him in contempt for his outburst in court. Must have been a Good Ole Boy.

  5. jp says:

    Every time you stop on highway, your biggest threat is behind you…be prepared to get out of way

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