Davin Taylor has been driving trucks for 13 years. He’d never been in a major crash until this afternoon. It was a spectacular, unforgettable one, mainly because for all of the crash’s apparent violence, the victim, a young woman in her 20s, somehow survived almost unscathed.
Taylor was driving his truck north on I-95 at 4:30 p.m. today. He had just driven past the Palm Coast Parkway intersection, and was about a mile or so south of the newly opened Matanzas Woods intersection. The young woman–a Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene did not yet have her identity–was driving a burgundy Hyundai Elantra, somewhat parallel to Taylor’s truck. She was on the furthest inside lane of I-95’s three northbound lanes. Taylor was driving in the center lane.
For a reason that hasn’t been determined, the FHP investigator said, the woman lost control of the Elantra, sending it onto the guardrail. The collision caused the car to bounce back into traffic–right against, and under, Taylor’s tractor trailer. The Elentra ended up partly catapulting through the trailer’s midsection and smashing against its rear wheels, with the top of the car sheared off. The Elantra’s front actually traveled far enough to jut out of the other side of the truck.
“I felt it. I didn’t see it,” Taylor said. “She hit the guard rail, when she hit it I knew I needed to get over, once I got over, that’s when I actually felt the impact.”
Taylor was traveling between 65 and 70 mph. He couldn’t stop immediately, given the truck’s momentum. So the truck traveled another quarter mile as it came to a stop in the right shoulder. (The truck, which was not damaged, belongs to the Brown Trucking Company of Georgia. The trailer, which was empty, was slightly damaged. The woman’s vehicle is registered in New Jersey.)
“You could see it when you looked through the rear-view mirror, you could see the sparks,” Taylor said. His reaction when the wreck unfolded? “I’m, like oh, shit, I hope she’s OK. I mean, you know, you look at it like that, I’ve seen accidents to where maybe she didn’t duck, maybe her head–you just don’t know. It’s my first major accident.” Put another way, the victim could have been decapitated. The top of the car was.
Yet she survived with hardly any injuries. The trooper said she was taken to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach only for precautionary reasons, but that otherwise she was “breathing, talking, conscious and all that.” Flagler County Fire Rescue and Palm Coast Fire Department firefighter-paramedics, who responded to the call, had to cut the left side of the vehicle in order to extract the victim, who was then placed on a stretcher and driven south.
“I think she had a scrape on her elbow, as far as that that’s all I saw,” Taylor said. “She was coherent, she was OK.”
“Everything is OK. As long as she’s OK, I’m fine,” Taylor said.
The wreck restricted northbound traffic to one lane after 4:30 p.m. By 6:15, when salvage crews arrived, traffic had backed up three miles.