A three-vehicle crash shut down Florida Park Drive in Palm Coast between Fawn Lane and Fayette Lane shortly after 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The road reopened at 4:40 p.m.
Flagler County Sheriff’s Deputies had responded to the scene, as had units of the Palm Coast Fire Department, until a Florida Highway Patrol investigator arrived and took over the scene at 3:29 p.m.
Other units, including rescue units of Flagler County Fire Rescue, evacuated the injured and left earlier. The delay in opening the road after 4 p.m. was due to the late arrival of a wrecker.
Three people were hurt and transported to Florida Hospital Flagler, suggesting that the injuries sustained were not life-threatening. (Traumatic injuries require transport to Halifax Hospital in Daytona Beach.) At 4:30 p.m., all three victims’ conditions were reported as stable.
The victims were Elini Kiss, 74, of Palm Coast; Constance N. Sheehy, 79, of Palm Coast; and Mark Stephen Sapienza, 39, of Apopka. He was visiting his mother in Palm Coast.
The wreck took place at the intersection of Florida Park Drive and Ferdinand Lane. It involved a white Dodge minivan that was broadsided, a Nissan Versa that took the brunt of the collision from the front (its front end is demolished), and a Ford Crown Victoria struck in its left rear.
Reconstructing the scene, the FHP investigator said that from his initial observations, the Ford, driven by Sapienza, appeared to be driving north and making a left turn onto Ferdinand Lane when it was rear-ended by the van, driven by Kiss. Sheehy was at the wheel of the Nissan, driving south, and broadsided the van on the van’s driver’s side. No fault has yet been assigned.
The Palm Coast Fire Police was diverting northbound traffic onto Fawn Lane. Southbound traffic was being diverted onto Fayette Lane, to Farragut Drive, which then goes either to Old Kings Road or to Farragut Lane, and back to Florida Park Drive, around the area of the wreck.
Not to be denied, at 3:53 p.m., a pizza delivery man called Jason, delivering for Five Star Pizza, was seen running past the road blockage with a pizza in hand, to make a delivery several houses north of the barrier. He delivered, then ran back south.
It is unclear why the wreck took as long as it did to be investigated. The Florida Highway Patrol always investigates the most serious wrecks, with exclusive jurisdiction over wrecks involving fatalities or traumatic injuries that may result in fatalities. But it remains unclear where the line is between FHP’s jurisdiction and that of the sheriff’s office at lesser wrecks, like today’s. Flagler deputies were at the scene first. They gathered information, but had to wait on the arrival of an FHP investigator.
FHP dispatched a trooper within minutes of the crash, but that trooper was near the Putnam County line and ended up being diverted. Many troopers today happened to be in court, and the agency was short-staffed on the road–as it has been chronically, due to cutbacks, over the years.
John’s Towing was called in soon after the trooper arrived at the scene and the wreckage was cleared.