Last Updated: 4:42 p.m.
Witnesses and police say the man had been pulled over at the Dollar General on U.S. 1, south of State Road 100, by Florida Highway Patrol troopers. A trooper had smelled marijuana emanating from the car, and the man’s eyes looked “glassy,” a trooper would later say. The man then decided to speed off in his Chevy Impala.
He didn’t get far.
The man, 30-year-old Ronald Glennlewis Evans of Pinehurst Drive in Palm Coast, blew a red light and struck the front of a pick-up truck at the intersection of State Road 100 and U.S. 1 then veered into the parking lot of the Citgo gas station and convenience store. The pick-up truck was driven by Thomas Andrew Luttenbacher of Pomona Park. He was slightly injured but did not require hospitalization.
Warnell Williams, the owner of a pick-up truck parked in the lot, was in the store, having a snack. “I didn’t see it hit my truck but I just saw it come flashing through,” Williams, a Bunnell resident, said. He saw what he described as “a flash of red” streak through the parking lot, parallel to U.S. 1. The Impala then struck his Chevy pick-up truck violently, and continued briefly into the grassy half-lot between the Citgo station and J&M Stainless Steel Repair, where men were working.
The Impala ended up facing east on the grass. It was shattered. The man inside was dead.
“It’s just a big red flash, the car went sideways,” with the driver’s side slamming into the parked pick-up truck, said Shelby Fawley, who saw a surveillance video of the crash as it unfolded. But she’d been sitting right by the bay windows of the Citgo as the wreck took place, working on her computer. “It was loud, it sounded like a damn bomb went off in here, shook the windows.”
A Flagler County Sheriff’s deputy had clocked Evans going 97 in a 45 moments before the crash, according to an FHP crash report.
The video shows the gray Dodge Ram slowly driving east on State Road 100, from State Road 11, onto the intersection. No sooner had the truck made it into the intersection than the Impala is seen speeding north and slamming into the Dodge Ram. The Impala then rotates on its wheels several times as crosses the Citgo parking lot and leaves the view of the surveillance camera. It’s after that, that it struck the pick-up truck that had been parked in the lot. Seconds later, police cars show up.
The Dodge Ram ended up facing east in the westbound lane of State Road 100.
No one else was seriously injured in the wreck even though, all told, three other vehicles were impacted by the wreck.
Here’s how FHP’s Lt. Robert Asbill summed up the incident after troopers had been investigating the scene for about 90 minutes: “About 12:35 the trooper was conducting traffic enforcement just south of the city of Bunnell here on U.S. 1,” Asbill said. “He conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle for a speeding violation. They pulled into the Dollar store just south of the scene here. He was out with the subject for a little bit, he noticed that there was an odor of marijuana coming from the vehicle.” The trooper was going back to his vehicle to run the license, after noticing “possible signs of impairment,” Asbill said. “He was going to do further investigation on that. When he approached back to the car, the subject drove off at a high rate of speed northbound on U.S. 1. Prior to coming to the intersection here, he’d passed a Flagler Sheriff’s deputy who was stationary, who clocked the vehicle over 90 miles an hour coming into the city here.”
It wasn’t a police chase, exactly, though it appeared to have been turning into one. “The trooper was attempting to catch back up to try to stop the subject again,” Asbill said. “They were a ways behind him,” by about 30 seconds, judging from the video, the trooper said. The Dollar store is about a mile from the location of the crash.
At least two police cruisers had immediately set chase of the Impala after it evaded the stop at the Dollar General. By shortly after 1 p.m., at least seven Florida Highway Patrol units had converged on the scene, along with units of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office and the Bunnell Police Department.
The wreck took place at 12:41 p.m. It soon shut down State Road 100 in both directions from Church Street to U.S. 1. That segment is likely to remain closed, Bunnell Fire Chief Derek Frasier said, for “a while,” as Florida Highway Patrol investigators work the scene.
Just before 3:00 p.m., two women, later joined by a third, walked up close to the Impala. One of the women broke down and sobbed and remained there at times holding her head or holding the other woman who was also crying.
Evans was driving a rental car. He had served several stints in state prison and at the Volusia County jail for a variety of charges. He was last in custody, according to Department of Corrections records, last November, after serving a year and a half for grand theft auto and drug possession. He served four years, between 2005 and 2009, on a pair of similar charges–grand theft auto and cocaine sale. And he served two years between 2002 and 2004 on drug charges.
The Florida Highway Patrol is divided into 10 divisional troops to cover the state, each troop encompassing several counties. Flagler is in Troop G, which includes nine counties. Because this wreck involved troopers from Troop G, it is being investigated by detectives from a different troop–in this case, Troop D, from DeLand.
The following video, shot moments after the wreck, was provided by Shelby Fawley, who took it on her cell phone: