Last Updated: Tuesday, 12:30 p.m.
Olando Ellis, 63, was killed as he sat in his stalled car on I-95 early this morning, when a tractor trailer slammed the car from behind on I-95 southbound, just before the Matanzas Woods Parkway interchange.
The crash took place at 3:18 a.m., closing two southbound lanes and three northbound lanes. Northbound traffic was diverted onto the emergency lane, and authorities at the scene were expecting a considerable back-up in both directions at daybreak, with rush hour traffic. Authorities were recommending that travelers avoid I-95 in both directions by taking U.S. 1 instead (at Palm Coast Parkway going north, or at Exit 298 going south). Clearing the scene was expected to take several hours.
Ellis, of Orange Park (also known as Olantriz Ellis), had reportedly called 911 for help just before the crash, and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper was on his way to respond to the call. Ellis had called because of car trouble. An FHP trooper at the scene said that from all appearances, Ellis’s Mercedes had lost electrical power. He said all its lights were off before it was struck, suggesting a problem with the car’s alternator. But that appears not to have been the case, as a witness who reported the disabled car later reported.
The Mercedes was in the right-most lane of the three southbound lanes. Ellis stayed in his car, waiting for authorities to show up. By Tuesday, authorities were reporting that Ellis himself had not made a 911 call, but that a trucker had reported the disabled car in the right lane: 911 notes indicate a “sedan stopped in traffic” at 3:06 a.m. That call came from a trucker who had to swerve to avoid the car. But the trucker also later told authorities that the car’s tail lights were on.
Edson Da Silva, 55, who was driving a 2005 Peterbilt 18-wheeler hauling tons of chain-link fencing, was traveling in the same right lane. He saw the car too late to avoid it, though it appears Da Silva had just begun to swerve left in an attempt to do just that.
The truck ended up crushing the Mercedes then tipping on its side and crashing the metal guardrail before coming to rest facing southeast, its cab in the northbound side of the Interstate, its trailer and cargo in the southbound side. Most of the cargo remained firmly in place. (911 notes refer to a call reporting the crash at 3:10 .m., followed by “multiple calls.”)
The Mercedes was crumpled beyond recognition and thrown onto the left shoulder of the southbound lanes, near the guardrail, some 30 or 40 feet north of the truck’s final position. The Medical Examiner was on his way from St. Augustine around 4:30 a.m. The victim was extricated from the car between 6:20 and 6:31 a.m.
Ellis was driving a 2005 Mercedes S420. Da Silva most likely does not face charges, an FHP trooper said at the scene, because he was not breaking traffic laws: the Mercedes was essentially blocking his right of way without lights on. Still, a trooper was taking the trucker, who was not visibly injured, to a local hospital for a voluntary blood draw, and to be checked out by physicians.
Of Ellis, the trooper said: “He’d done everything he knew how to do, from the call record.” Troopers, however, recommend that in such situations, drivers and their passengers exit the car and walk away from all travel lanes to safety, to await authorities, or if at all safely possible to put the vehicle in neutral and attempt to move it to an emergency lane. The man in the Mercedes may have remained in the car because of the cold: it was about 45 degrees this morning on the Interstate. But it is also possible that Ellis may have been having a medical issue.
The Palm Coast Fire Department, Flagler County Fire Rescue and the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office responded to the scene. FHP is conducting the traffic homicide investigation. The Palm Coast Fire Police was regulating traffic.
At around 6:45 a.m., John’s Towing of Bunnell was dispatched to the scene to remove the truck. Roger’s Towing of Bunnell was to remove the Mercedes. The salvaging operation was expected to take several hours from that point on, with the lanes restrictions remaining in place for the workers’ safety.
Vicki and Brian Nixon says
So many accident fables in the last 2 weeks this is beyond sad! Prayers go out to this man’s friends and family.
Seems like the auto manufacturers care more about highly profitable and mostly non essential amenities in cars, rather than develop safety features such as lights that don’t go out when there is a problem with the car. I’m sure there is a way to do that. Just one more thing to add to the list of defects in today’s vehicles.
Guess maybe we should all have a good size flashlight in the car.
Bob & p- s says
Sorry for his loss of life but what was he thinking!!!
Rick Belhumeur says
I really feel bad that the gentleman lost his life but there is a lesson to be learned here. Never ever stay in your vehicle when broken down on the interstate. Even if you are lucky enough to get out of the travel lanes and onto the shoulder, you should not remain in your vehicle. Get out and make sure you are out of harms way until help arrives.
Concerned Observer says
All too often, we look to blame someone else for our problems. I cannot blame the truck driver at all in this case. The road was dark and he had every reasonable expectation that any vehicle on the highway would be moving in the same direction and be adequately illuminated. I cannot blame the automaker for not providing lights that work when there is no electricity to operate them. I am sorry for the driver of the Mercedes and their family for the loss of life. However, had the operator of the Mercedes been minimally prepared, as all drivers must be, they would be alive today. I believe Mercedes still come from the factory with a reflective triangle to place in the roadway at a safe distance behind the car in the event of a breakdown. In fact, it is a law in Germany to have one in your car. There are any number of LED flashlights available, some with magnetic mounts to hold them in place on your car, and flashers that will attract the attention of any oncoming driver. Any time your vehicle breaks down on any highway, all occupants must leave the vehicle, and stand a safe distance from the roadway, preferably toward the oncoming traffic so as not to be hit by debris in the case of an accident. NEVER turn your back on oncoming traffic. It seems this driver didn’t do any of these simple tasks and unfortunately, they paid the ultimate price. Don’t forget the innocent truck driver and the business that owned the truck. They must also pay a price for this drivers neglect. Please do not shoot the messenger, for I am not disparaging the driver of the Mercedes, only that the majority of the fault for this tragic crash must be laid on inadequate actions of one driver to be properly prepared and for not acting in a safe manner after the crash. Readers take heed. Carry flashlights (more than one) in your car. Maybe a package of road flares if you are knowledgeable of the safe handling of them as they can be dangerous if used inappropriately. I also carry a fire extinguisher in my vehicle. Your adequate responsible precautions may save several lives one day; maybe even your own.
I am sorry for his loss of life as well, but I agree…..what was he thinking? He was stalled in a drivable lane, in the dark!!!!! This is why car emergency kits have flares, flashlights, etc…….or stick it in neutral and push it. I’m a girl and have had to do that myself. I am so so sorry for his family and friends.
Did you read the article? The mans car apparently lost all power and lights, he called 911 for help, he may have stayed in his car because it was 45 degrees and windy outside. He may have been thinking that he would be able to exit the vehicle quickly if he needed to but it’s hard to tell what lane an oncoming vehicle is in at night. Read the article again.
The Truth says
Electrical problems can sometimes be unavoidable. My thoughts and prayers are with this man but he made a huge mistake staying in his vehicle at 3 AM on I-95 with no lights. We all have to use common sense when we are in a situation like this and yes it’s a good idea to keep a working flash light in your vehicle. You never know when a situation might come about where a flash light is needed.
Again, my thoughts and prayers are with this man and his family as well as the driver of the tractor trailer. No one deserved to be killed in this situation.
I’d like to side with you on this. But it boils down to he simply should have left the vehicle and waited
as far from it as he could get. Or pushed it to the shoulder. Not knowing if he was able to or not. The story did state they thought perhaps he had been running on the alternator. Meaning the battery was most likely dead. Only magical taillights (which haven’t been invented) will function without power.
Sad though. Rule number 1 don’t sit in a stationary car on I 95. Ever!
Dawn Smith says
Is it possible that Ellis was locked in his car, and could not get out, with the doors being electronic?
likely the cold weather added to the driver being INSIDE the car..what a tragedy!! RIP Orlando..
That truck Driver will carry that for the rest of his life …
my brother in law still carries the guilt for the seath of a child
because the mother was irresponsible
And caused the accident.. but thats no balm to my brother in laws conscience
doyle lewis says
The new cars need to only be to drive. All the other things in the front of the car should not be there unless it helps to drive better. So sad.
alan b says
I came by the scene around 7 and the car was still there. It was not one of today’s vehicles. Looked like an early 90’s model from the front. That’s all you could tell. The rear bumper was all the way up to the steering wheel. Horrible tragedy. Wish he’d gotten out of the car.
USA Lover says
The carnage continues…smh
In response to Leigh…there’s no need to read it again. It was I-95! A major interestate!
It happened to me a couple months ago while I was waiting at the car wash off Old Kings. I have a 2 year old Hyundia and I lost everything electrical, the hazard lights didn’t work but it was day light so I directed traffic around me waiting for the wrecker. I have an extended warranty bumper to bumper 10 yrs. The dealer would only pay the towing charge. You know what make of car I’m buying next?
This man they you ate discussing is my uncle.To know him was to love him.Please stop saying what was he thinking.Because in this life we live YOU may go through the same thing .I’m in total disbelief, my poor uncle.I appreciate everyone who said a kind word.God bless you and please pray for my family
Olando Ellis also known as Mr.Ellis was a friend of my teacher by the name of Travis Foster, not only was Mr.Ellis an amazing teacher, but he was also a best friend of mine who helped me through problems in 7th grade, the other teachers were devastated and so was I, i hated the fact that I was told that he died, it impaled my heart.
My family is so hurt by this tragedy. We lost a happy and kind Uncle please keep our family in prayer.
Lori parmut says
We were there stopped in traffic for and hour, so sad, no one would EVER EVER sit in a car on 95, with trucks an car flying by, especially at 3:00 in the morning, that helpless man was locked in that car with no power and could not get out, that is how I see it, prayers for all involved. What a tragedy. Prayers for all.
Duke Ganote says
Reflective tape along the back bumper sounds like a bright idea. A quick stop at an auto parts store on the way home before it gets dark…
Praying for ALL involved, and their families. This was a sad tragedy, not finding fault here. I can’t imagine the grief, the guilt, the images that will haunt. Love and hugs❤
marlon mcintyre says
That’s my close friend, put yourself in my family’s position, what if you lost someone close. Would you be so objective. Pray for the family and the truck driver, all those unspoken names at there, too afraid too state their name or email. He was an kind loving man, that can’t be replaced. There is no perfect answer in this situation just god’s grace
Condolences to this family. I have to tell you coming from a very small town girl with very little driving experience on major interstates I would have been so terrified and not sure I would have known what to do . At 3 something in the morning, on a very dark extra cold morning , getting out my car is opposite to what I am used to hearing in most other vehicle situations . Most often we hear of pedestrians and officers being killed by a passing vehicle while waiting outside a vehicle . We hear of men and women being raped, killed, robbed or harmed if left in a vulnerable situation like stranded alone ion a HWY Until reading these comments , if I was in the furthest lane over on the outside lane I may have considered perhaps I was out of the way and as vehicles would be approaching surely they would see me when their lights shined on the vehicle . Unfortunately it is a known fact that semi trucks do well over the speed limit especially during a less congested time with open freeway. .And again I am truly sorry for this gentleman whom lost his life so tragically and to his family and friends . And while I know this must be an awful sensitive subject at this time I have learned new valuable insight from these comments and pray that none of us find ourselves in a similar unfortunate situation . So very sad for all involved . Should of , could of , would of are a mute point at this time for this young man . My thoughts and prayers go out to all involved 🙏🏻
Lots of comments questioning what was he thinking. Olando was a good, gracious and godly man. He was thinking about whomever might have come up and hit him. He was probably trying to get the car out of drive so he could push it out of the road. Olando always put others before himself.