Early Saturday morning (Sept. 6), Mildred Rivas, an 86-year-old resident of Palm Coast’s Z Section, was driving south on I-95 when, near the Old Dixie Highway exit, she was rear-ended by what witnesses said was a white pick-up truck. The collision was violent enough that Rivas’s 2001 Kia overturned and slid against the median guardrail, ending up on its passenger side.
The white pick-up that struck it, witnesses reported, continued driving south even as one of the witnesses saw heavy front-end damage to the pick-up, and smoke emanating from one of its tires.
Leaving the scene of an accident where an injury has occurred is a third-degree felony under Florida law.
Rivas had been following all rules of the road. She was traveling at the posted 70 mph speed limit. She had her seat belt on. Driving conditions were normal. She sustained non-life-threatening injuries from the crash. Rescue 95 of Flagler County Fire Rescue evacuated her to Florida Hospital Flagler.
Meanwhile Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies were able to make contact with two witnesses. One had stopped at the scene. The other had followed the white pick-up truck into Volusia County. There, that witness was contacted by the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, and eventually led deputies to where the pick-up truck had parked, in a dirt driveway, apparently in an effort to evade detection, according to an arrest report.
It was a Dodge pick-up with Florida license tags. It had been parked at 2000 South Old Dixie Highway. It wasn’t long before Flagler deputies arrived at the scene and relieved the Volusia deputies.
It was Bunnell Police officer Austin Chewning who found the driver and the passengers he was with, at a gas station on Old Dixie Highway. The owner of the Dodge, and the driver, was Walter Wine, a 39-year-old resident of Zellwood, Fla. He was traveling with a 40-year-old woman and two children, a 9-year-old girl and a 3-year-old boy.
Wine had sustained some injuries and was taken to Florida Hospital Flagler, where he would have been in the same emergency room as Rivas, the victim of the hit-and-run. The woman said she and the children had not been injured, declined medical attention and said she would arrange for her own and the children’s transportation.
In an interview with a deputy at the hospital (Wine had waived his Miranda rights) Wine said he and his family had left Tennessee the previous evening at 10 p.m. and had been driving since, on their way to the Orlando area. Wine apparently explained what had happened on I-95, and why he had not parked the Dodge at the gas station rather than in a dissimulated driveway, but those lines were redacted from his arrest report.
Wine, after he was cleared from the hospital, was booked at the Flagler County jail on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident with injuries. He was released after posting bail on a $1,000 bond.