A little after 11 p.m. Sunday night on Palm Coast Parkway, an 18-year-old woman at the wheel of a sedan ran into a man on a scooter as the two vehicles were heading west. The man, 18-year-old Tyler C. Jacques, was ejected and seriously injured, and the car caught on fire in proximity of the victim.
Moments later, Christina M. Atwell, 42, a witness who was first at the scene of the crash, was helping the victim and was soon joined by Flagler County Sheriff Austin Darlymple. “I’ve got a male on the ground bleeding severely from his head,” Darlymple tells dispatchers as he approaches the scene, the car and the moped by then fully engulfed in flames.
“Let’s get him further away,” Darlymple tells the woman-Samaritan, before telling Jacques they’re too close to the fire: “We’re going to have to move you, OK?” But before they do, an explosion rips from the flames, prompting them immediately to grab Jacques as he moans in pain, dragging him away from the danger zone. “OK, I’m sorry, I know, we had to get you away,” the deputy tells him.
The circumstances of the crash are not yet clear, nor has the identity of the 18-year-old woman at the wheel of the vehicle that ran into the scooter been released. The Florida Highway Patrol is investigating. But a sheriff’s spokesperson said from preliminary indications, the woman’s car may have been going faster than the scooter and not seen it in time to stop. “She did stay on scene and obviously was cooperative with deputies during the investigation,” the spokesperson said of the driver, whom she described as “hysterical” after the crash. Paramedics initially requested an emergency helicopter, but that proved unnecessary.
Atwell stayed by the side of the victim, asking him questions and comforting him. He answered “a bunch of questions” to the deputy as well, the spokesperson said, “so he was coherent while he was on scene with him, and I guess he was stable enough for them to be able to transport him by ground because they never called for a helicopter.”
The crash was reported at 11:12 p.m. Firefighters had water on the fire at 11:19, and had it “dead out” by 11:23 p.m., according to 911 notes. Jacques was taken by Flagler County Fire Rescue ambulance to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach.
“Deputy Dalrymple and Ms. Atwell put their own safety at risk in order to move the injured man away from the crash and a safe distance from the flames,” Sheriff Rick Staly was quoted as saying in a release. “In the body camera footage you can hear an explosion from the vehicle fire just as they are pulling the man away from the crash site. Their quick and selfless actions may have helped save this injured man’s life.”