Police have ruled out the involvement of a school bus in the hit-and-run that killed Alex Taylor the morning of Sept. 27, before sun-up, on State Road 100. Suspicion has focused instead on a large, unmarked rig that drove by the scene, going west, right across from the Government Services Building, about two minutes before school buses drove by on their way to their morning runs. Authorities believe it is very unlikely that the rig will be better identified, or a driver located.
Taylor, a 54-year-old man with few means, was living in Palm Terrace in the last few months of his life. From there every morning he would rise early and ride or walk his bike toward downtown Bunnell, looking for day labor. He was walking his bike–not riding it, as initially believed–in the bike lane on Sept. 27 when he was struck violently by an object in back of the head, and his jeans’ back pocket was clipped and torn. Those were the strongest clues the Florida Highway Patrol had, leading investigators to believe that an object protruding from a vehicle may have been responsible.
The following day, investigators that included members of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s crime lab were at Flagler County schools’ main bus depot, behind Flagler Palm Coast High School, looking into the possibility that one of three buses may have been involved. The buses’ protruding side mirrors, which extend about two feet and whose arm rises to about the height of an average man, drew investigators’ attention. But none of the buses produced more than evidence of smashed love bugs. Drivers interviewed had not been aware that they had hit anything, nor had they seen anything on the ground. Dawn hadn’t yet broken when Taylor was struck.
Two clues helped investigators rule out the buses. First, close examination of a video from a bus showed what appeared to have been Taylor, already hit, before the bus was level with him. Second, investigators were able to find a surveillance video from the Flagler County Courthouse, with enough of a view of SR100 to detect passing traffic, including the school buses. About two minutes before the first school bus passed by, a large rig did. Investigators surmised that a metal step on the rig may ripped Taylor’s back pocket, and that the mirror on the front of the rig may have hit him in the head.
The semi, investigators further believe, may have been passing through SR100 as large trucks sometimes do: to avoid the weigh station on I-95 by exiting at SR100, traveling up U.S. 1, and getting back on 95 at the interchange just past the Flagler County line. That makes finding the truck almost impossible, because no distinctive markings could be seen on the video.
Taylor used to spend much of his time at Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church, a gathering place for the homeless and others with few means, particularly on Wednesday evenings, when the church offers a free meal, and for Bible study, to which Taylor had taken recently. The church held a memorial service for him on Oct. 2.
Taylor’s killing by hit-and-run is the first of two in a matter of six weeks on Flagler roads. Francoise Pequeur, a 76-year-old Palm Coast resident who’d moved to town a decade and a half ago, was hit while walking her dog on Columbia Lane the evening of Nov. 10 when Jamesine Fischer, the 55-year-old wife of Flagler County School Board member John Fischer, struck her with her PT Cruiser and did not immediately report the accident. The Fischers placed a call to the sheriff’s office almost 12 hours later to inform authorities that the Cruiser may have been involved. The car was soon impounded. Pecqueur died two days later.