Last Updated: Friday, 3:15 p.m.
Update: The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office on Friday (June 19) identified the man who died by suicide on Thursday morning as Nicholas Joel Cosantino, 35, of 270 Dusty Road in St. Augustine.
The Flagler County Sheriff’s Office is conducting a death investigation following the discovery early this morning of a 35-year-old white man who died by hanging off a tree behind Cracker Barrel restaurant in Palm Coast.
“They are currently conducting a death investigation,” a sheriff’s spokesperson said today. “It appears to be self-inflicted but it’s the early stages of the investigation so we don’t have all the details at this time.”
When authorities first got word that a person was found dead in those circumstances in the woodline at Cracker Barrel– on the south side of the restaurant–there was a moment of anxiety, because of the location, the timing–with the nation in upheaval over racial tensions–and the manner of death, in a public and somewhat visible zone no less. But authorities quickly established that the death was in every way unrelated to those issues.
“The person was not black, and the location was on cracker barrel’s property, but in the woodline, so it would not be easily visible from the road,” the spokesperson said.
Cracker Barrel is located next to an Econo Lodge, the motel, where the man is believed to have been staying: he was not from the Flagler-Palm Coast area, but was traveling through.
The discovery of the man was reported to 911 at 4:50 this morning, by a caller who said that “there is someone hanging from a tree.” Sheriff’s deputies, detectives and crime scene analysts converged on the scene, which was roped off. The medical examiner reported to the scene at 6:54 a.m., removing the body for an autopsy in St. Augustine. The crime scene was broken down at 8:14 a.m. It was apparent from elements at the scene that foul play was unlikely, and that the death was a suicide. His vehicle was towed from the scene by Saxon’s towing.
The short amount of time between the discovery of the man and the breakdown of the crime scene is another indicator that foul play is not suspected, and that it is a personal tragedy rather than a malicious incident.
Authorities stressed early on that the findings were preliminary. “It’s the early stages of the investigation so anything could change at this point,” the spokesperson said.
This evening, Sheriff Rick Staly spoke of the case as a suicide more definitely. “At this point it points to a case of suicide, a tragic case, as all suicides are, but there’s nothing our community needs to be concerned of,” the sheriff said.
The case was “an unusual suicide because generally they’re not so public done,” he said. “Obviously somebody that hangs himself from a tree in a public area, with the current climate in the country, always raises a concern, but that was dispelled very quickly by our investigators and the CSI. The evidence clearly supports that this was a suicide.”
The sheriff’s office withheld Cosentino’s identity until Friday as next of kin notification had been difficult to complete. He was from St. Augustine, had had difficulties with the law in the last few few years, and had been battling domestic and child custody issues at the time of his death.
The following resources are available for individuals in crisis:
In Flagler: The Crisis Triage and Treatment Unit (CTTU) is a crisis assessment and referral service for Flagler County residents experiencing behavioral health crisis. It is located at 301 Justice Lane in the Brown & Brown Outpatient building at the Vince Carter Sanctuary in Bunnell. This program is limited to individuals escorted to the program by law enforcement between the hours of noon and midnight daily. Law enforcement is able to transport individuals to SMA to assess and determine the appropriate clinical disposition. When required and appropriate, SMA then transports the individual to a receiving facility in Volusia County.
In Daytona Beach: Stewart-Marchman Act Corporation Crisis Center
1220 Willis Avenue
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Crisis Line: (800) 539 – 4228
Available 24 hours.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800/273-8255 (TALK), or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
People 60 and older can call the Institute on Aging’s 24-hour, toll-free Friendship Line at 800-971-0016. IOA also makes ongoing outreach calls to lonely older adults.
If you are concerned for someone else, read about warning signs here. For additional resources, see the Speaking of Suicide website.
PC Citizen says
Thank goodness the deceased was not a person of color, or Al Sharpton would be warming up his Lear Jet and heading to Flagler Executive airport tonight to organize some type of mayhem. Im sure Cracker-barrel will have to choose a new name soon!
Are you serious?.
Yolo Will says
Is that what you get from someone feeling desperate and troubled enough to end his own life? That’s a very bad statement about who you are. Smh. May he rest in peace.
Eileen Leonard says
Well, considering the recent hangings of two black men, an investigation would have been justified
The family of one of the two Black men you referred to has already come out and declared that their loved one’s death was a suicide. Apparently, he left behind video evidence, despite being homeless. Sometimes, compassion and understanding are what is most needed, along with a serious discussion about developing resources to help those who find themselves in the grips of Mental health and/or Addictions struggles.
Future Psychologist says
Thank you couldn’t have said it better. Mental illness is a real thing and I wish more people would recognize that. I work in Psych and you wouldn’t believe the cases I see on a daily. Depression and suicidal behavior is a real thing. If anyone you know needs help please have the get the help they need no one deserves to feel left in the dark. I enjoyed your comment.
Concerned Carl says
Wow, so you are ok with a white man taking his own life? I have not heard any concern about the name of this restaurant but now that you brought it up, I am offended. It should have been changed a long time ago and if black men were not targets of racist police officers and white suprematist we would not need a man of any color with empathy like Rev Sharpton to organize any type of mayhem, as you so ineloquently spewed.
Har Mann says
How nice of you to show such empathy towards another human being who was clearly struggling with is life.
JD Moore says
Thats a vile & disgusting remark
Karen A says
May he Rest In Peace… all his troubles are now behind him.
But the “troubles” for his survivors are just beginning. Suicide, unfortunately, can take a string of lives–for generations to come.
I’m curious…why the hell do feel the need to say “he was not black” doesn’t matter. You are part of the reason for what is going on in this country right now!
Richard Smith says
C J i’m with u on this. Color should not matter…
Thats the exact mentality we are talking about. May the truth be told
Gary K. says
Listing the person’s race regardless of if he was black or white or any other color makes this a racist article. Why can’t you just say a man and leave out the color of his skin? Just like the media to keep racism alive and well.
R. I. P. Prayers for his family.
Because of this, and because context matters.
@Flaglerlive–The family of one of the two Black men referred to in the article you embedded has already made a public statement, saying that their loved one’s death was a Suicide–a conclusion that was apparently based on video evidence that he, himself, left behind.
Perhaps we should consider this point: Even with the Floyd and Brooks deaths, Addictions played a role in making the individuals vulnerable to being in such negative circumstances to begin with. There are issues that we all, as human beings, have in common–and Addictions and Mental Health problems are high up on the list of what we should be addressing.
I am not saying that bigotry and police brutality aren’t serious issues but they don’t seem to have played much of a part in this particular man’s death. So much for “context”.
No one said or claimed bigotry played a role in this man’s death. The context in this case was a nation–and clearly, our own community and even law enforcement–on edge at reports that a man was found handing, with those reports spreading all over social media for six or seven hours before we were able to confirm authoritatively that the man was white, and later, that it was a suicide.
Prayers to this man’s family and may God watch over his family in their times of sorrow and sadness
A. J. says
Lord have mercy on us. These days are hectic. Give all those men families strength to cope with their lost.
Tanya Weirick says
I hope this gentleman has found peace, and my heart goes out to his friends and family.
So sad! Nothing in life is so bad that it has to end!
This is so sad. May he rest in peace
John R Brady says
In my career in child welfare, I was part of what was called a child death review. Every child death from birth to age 21 who died by any means had that death reviewed by a panel. This panel was made up of all individuals from every agency that had dealings with the child and the parents of the child.
The goal of this panel was to find any common elements and if found share that information with all social service agencies, school districts and parents. A secondary goal was to find prevention strategies.
Local media would report on the findings of this panel.
Confidentiality was not an issue and everybody on the panel had input.
One of the more significant findings with middle school and high school death by suicides was that when there was a decline in personal hygiene there was a high likelihood of death by suicide.
This finding was publicly shared and in particular was passed to the various school administrations in our jurisdiction. It is hard to tell whether as a result of this knowledge any deaths by suicide were prevented. However it gave the people in the various school districts a metric to be considered and aware of,
I am not aware that this is being done here. If it is being done the results should be publicly shared. If not being done the Office of Children Youth and Families should consider doing this immediately. In all likelihood, the factors discovered for children are identical for adults.
Ive known this guy since was 14 or 15 years old. I don’t believe for a second it was suicide. With all the race tensions in this country, his sons mothers husband being very violent and didn’t want him to have anything to do with his son, I would say it was more than likely one or the two. If it was racism, god knows it wouldn’t even be reported, might upset a bunch of spoiled crybabies
Report what you suspect to FDLE please.
I went to high school with this man and it is so sad knowing his kids are left behind. To this day I’ve seen him out and about and never one time did he not have a smile on his face, especially when he was in the presence of his kiddos. 😥 This new honestly hurts my heart bc there is so much help out there and I just wish someone knew and could have helped. This will make the 5th persons death out our graduate class, it’s. R.I.P Nic sorry it ended like this.
Trailer Bob says
CB from PC says
Wonder if there will be any empathy or outrage over this hanging from the gallery.
JUDITH A SWEENEY says
so sad. Rest in peace young man.
Very sad. I just spoke with this gentleman several days ago at a gas station. He was extremely polite and seemed to in good spirits. Any other time I have seen him he had s smile on his face. Truly sad. My sympathies go put to his family and friends.
Lisa Harrison says
In the article it stated that he had been staying at a hotel nearby for awhile, I find it concerning that he supposedly did this outside in a public area when he had a room as well as a car & other options. I hope this was thoroughly & properly investigated. RIP
I pray for his family & children. I myself lost my father to suicide 3days after my 16th bday in 1997& all these yrs later it still hurts