Last Updated: 12:41 p.m.
Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedics were almost overwhelmed Monday morning in an explosion of emergencies during the 8 o’clock hour as a cyclist was struck by a car on Belle Terre Parkway and had to be evacuated by air, a shuttle full of golfers on State Road A1A triggered a three-vehicle wreck, and an individual on Empire Lane ended his life by gunshot in his garage.
Flagler requested that St. Johns County rescuers be on stand-by until a little after 9 a.m., when enough of Flagler’s rescuers were available again to handle further emergencies.
Eight people were taken to Florida Hospital Flagler from the wreck scene at A1A. Aside from the suicide, the most serious injury of the morning was to the 73-year-old cyclist on Belle Terre, who had to be evacuated by Flagler County Fire Flight, to Halifax hospital.
The cyclist, according to a preliminary investigation by the Florida Highway Patrol trooper at the scene, was pedaling north on the walkway along Belle Terre. He was well into the crosswalk at Pine Grove Drive when a Honda Accord, driven by a 19 or 20-year-old man, was driving on Pine Grove and making a right turn to go north on Belle Terre. The driver told the investigator that he didn’t see the cyclist. The left-front side of the Accord hit the cyclist, “striking and dragging the pedal cyclist” along Belle Terre, the investigator said.
Fire County Fire Flight landed on the east side of White View Parkway to take the cyclist to Halifax. Belle Terre Parkway north was reduced to one lane for about 20 minutes. Charges are likely pending against the driver, who violated the cyclist’s right-of-way. The investigator specified that the cyclist was in his right to pedal across the crosswalk, as long as he obeyed pedestrian laws.
The crash at A1A is more complicated. Based on reconstructions from the description of witnesses, including one of the three drivers, and a Florida Highway Patrol investigator at the scene, here’s how the wreck unfolded:
A Hammock Beach Club shuttle transporting 12 golfers, all of them in uniform pink shirts, was pulling out of Yacht Harbor Village, at the intersection with A1A and Camino del Mar Parkway, which curves to the Hammock Dunes toll bridge in one direction and goes into the Hammock Dunes development in others. The shuttle was taking the golfers to the Conservatory for a round of golf. Driving the shuttle: Donald Bauer, 63, of St. Augustine.
Driving north on A1A was Bill Allen, 57, and his wife Karen, 58, in their 2000 Ford F-350. They were trailing their two motorcycles–a Harley Davidson and a vintage Harmann, its front dating back to 1948, much of it rebuilt by Allen in his living room over three years. They were driving home to Texas after a week at Biketoberfest. The decals on the back of their cab read: “This joke isn’t funny anymore. Can we have a real president now?”
Sitting at the stop sign at Camino del Mar, facing A1A, was a young man, trailing his landscaping equipment in a trailer–a lawnmower, a leaf blower, large garbage cans. The decals on his truck read “Save the ta-tas” and “watch for motorcycles.”
Witness Bill Allen Describes the A1A Wreck[media id=303 width=250 height=250]
According to the FHP investigator, Bauer, driving the shuttle, didn’t stop at the stop sign when coming out of Harbor Yacht Village. Allen saw him heading straight for his pick-up, and could only do so much to avert the collision, Allen said. He tried. But he saw a t-boning as almost inevitable. Allen veered right as he tried to avoid the shuttle, but the shuttle struck him, sending Allen’s Ford smashing into the young man’s Dodge at the stop sign–and the shuttle itself bouncing off of the Ford and continuing straight into the woods at the northeast corner of the intersection. On the way, the van knocked down a light pole.
Bauer was eventually cited with violation of right of way, the FHP said.
Allen described the wreck this way: “The man in the resort van pulled out across the road heading east. I can’t say if he stopped or not. It doesn’t look to me like he stopped. When I realized we were going to have a collision I locked the brakes and turned the wheel to the right trying to avoid him. I hit him in the right front”–meaning the van–“and then this poor guy was just going to mow lawns. He was sitting at the stop sign, bless his heart. And I hit the van, and the van hit him, I veered off the van and hit him again, and that’s where we stand.”
“I heard my brakes squealing, I heard a crash. That was it,” Allen continued. “As soon as the collision, I looked to my wife, said, are you OK? and before I even locked the brakes she was my only concern. I’m one of those fortunate men that if every man had a wife and a relationship like mine, there wouldn’t be any wars. She is my reason for living. I looked at her, I said are you OK, she said I think so. I got out of my car, out of my door, I ran around the truck. She couldn’t get the door opened. I snatched the door open and got her out.”
Allen said he was driving on A1A rather than on I-95 to get a better feel for the small towns along the way. “I thought for sure that there was going to be fatalities. I was imagining the worst possible scenario,” Allen said, “which is mangled bodies and screaming people all over. I didn’t have any idea.” Of the shuttle, Allen said: “He either ran the stop sign or he stopped and hammered it, because he wasn’t going slow when he pulled out.”
The highway patrol investigator said the van driver did not appear to have stopped at the stop sign.
The stretch of Camino del Mar Parkway from the foot of the tool bridge to A1A was closed to traffic for more than two hours. The Palm Coast Fire Police provided traffic control. The Palm Coast Fire Department and Flagler County Fire Rescue responded to both wrecks.
The suicide, unrelated to either wreck, took place simultaneously at 2 Empire Lane in Palm Coast. At about 12:30 p.m., Fire Flight was again in the air, asked to assist in a pursuit of burglars in Palm Coast, in the Parkview area.