Last Updated: 4:46 p.m.
Traffic Update, 4:45 p.m.: As of 4:45 p.m., I-95 southbound remained closed from the intersection with U.S. 1 (at the Flagler-St. Johns County line) all the way to Palm Coast Parkway. Traffic was being diverted onto U.S. 1, where it was significantly backed up. The three lanes of I-95 south remained closed because the state Department of Transportation was carrying out an emergency repaving operation at the scene where the two semi trucks crashed and burst into flame early this morning (see below). Sheriff Rick Staly said that according to DOT, the highway was expected to remain closed for at least two to three hours.
A four-vehicle crash on I-95 near Palm Coast Parkway before dawn this morning led to a manhunt for one of the drivers and possibly additional occupants and a shut-down of I-95 south and two lanes of I-95 north. Two hours later, a second crash further north caused the death of a truck driver, and a third crash involved a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle, though the vehicle was unoccupied. There were yet more crashes in that span of time, along the same stretch of road.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported at least one fatality from the crashes.
“There’s crashes everywhere,” Flagler County Fire Rescue Chief Don “Petito said.
Information was jumbled even for authorities this morning because of the multiplicity of crashes. The scene of the initial crash at mile marker 289 was inaccessible as it was an ongoing crime scene: that vehicle may have been stolen, authorities said.
The initial crash took place at 4:16 a.m., leaving a gray SUV severely damaged and in the middle of the three southbound lanes of I-95, by the southbound merge lane from Palm Coast Parkway, and a Dodge Durange smashed against the guard rail. Three other vehicles were also involved.
The crash involving a sheriff’s deputy’s vehicle took place around 6:12 a.m. In yet another incident, a vehicle was reported to crash into the woods at mile marker 288 or 289, northbound. And at 4:36, there was a crash on the souhthbound off-ramp at I-95 and Palm Coast Parkway.
Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies, flashlights in hand, were scouring the nearby woods and a helicopter–Trauma One–was aiding the search as authorities were looking for the driver of the vehicle. By 6:50, the search was over: an injured man was located.
In early afternoon FHP shed clearer light on the case of the original crash: A Dodge Durango was traveling south when for unknown reasons, it lost control just past the intersection with Palm Coast Parkway, striking the guard rail and bouncing back into the road. A Chevy Silverado traveling south, with 58-year-old Eduardo Torna at the wheel, then struck the rear of the Durango, rotating and ending up against the guard rail. Torna suffered serious injuries and was taken to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach.
Michelle Henry, 30, of Orlando, was at the wheel of a 2013 Buick, traveling south on the inside lane. She saw the crash, tried to avoid it by swerving right, and as she did so, struck the driver’s side of the Durango and ended up on the road’s outside shoulder. Henry sustained minor injuries.
Bethany Collins, 32, was driving a 2010 Honda south, with passenger Marvella Taylor, 69, both of Afton, Tenn. Authorities believe Collins’s Honda struck a tire from the Durango’s rear passenger side, causing the Honda to spin and end up in the grassy part of the shoulder. Collins and Taylor were not injured.
Meanwhile all occupants of the Durango fled the scene. The Florida Highway Patrol is seeking information from any witnesses or anyone having any information relating to the crash. Call Crime Stoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS (8477) or the St. Augustine Florida Highway Patrol Station at 904-417-4272.
Shortly after the crash somebody called Polk County Sheriff’s Office and tried to report the Durango stolen, Sheriff Rick Staly said. “Everything else was basically a chain reaction resulting from the original crash,” he said.
Shortly after 6 a.m. (at 6:05), several units were dispatched to a fire following what dispatchers reported as a crash involving two semi trucks a mile distant from the initial crash site by the Parkway. The fire led to the closure of two northbound lanes. The Palm Coast Fire Police was regulating traffic.
One of the semi drivers was severely hurt and bleeding badly, and later died. His name has not been released yet.
And shortly after that, a pick-up crashed into the back of one of the semis, pinning the driver under his dashboard and severely injuring him.
The fatal crash was around mile marker 291, near the Matanzas Woods Parkway exit. Rescuers were still involved in an extrication of the pick-up driver past 7 a.m.
“There’s a ton of crashes,” the Sheriff’s Chief Mark Strobridge said around 7:30, trying to tally up the toll. “It’s amazing.”
Just after 7 a.m., rescuers called for an emergency helicopter (Air One) to pick up the patient, with the helicopter due to land on the southbound lanes of I-95. That was for the crash at mile marker 293.
Southbound traffic was being diverted off I-95 at Palm Coast Parkway, onto Old Kings Road or Belle Terre Parkway. Florida Highway Patrol investigators arrived at the scene just before 6 a.m. The fire was called under control at 6:30 a.m., and cleared at around 7:30.
Motorists were being urged to avoid the area in either direction, exiting at I-95 and State Road 100 if traveling north, and at Matanzas Woods Parkway if traveling south. Palm Coast Fire Department and Flagler County Fire Rescue units were at both crash sites.
At 8:30 a.m., yet another severe crash took place, though not on I-95: a truck plowed into a power pole at Sesame Boulevard and Selma Trail, knocking down the power line and leaving two people dead.
Sesame was shut down between September and Sleepy Hollow.
[This is a developing story.]
I suppose people will want stop lights going on and off I 95. Seriously the on ramp to south 95 off palm coast pkwy has a speed limit sign for 45 mph and people try to enter 95 at 45 mph and the near misses begin. Some day there will be a gib one at this off ramp. Have you ever tried entering 95 at 45mph??
jane doh says
Once again, The Curse of Palm Coast.
Most people don’t understand that the reasoning behind the design of these off and on ramps is to allow time for either acceleration or deceleration of speed. For example, a motorist should use the on ramp to the Freeway to get UP to freeway speeds and that way once you actually are on the Interstate you should be able to merge without any interruption of Freeway speeds. The issue is that too many drivers refuse to allow vehicles to blend into traffic thinking they’ll get wherever they’re going later or something. Same thing applies to off ramps, as soon as you exit the main lanes of the Freeway your speed should decelerate to posted speed limits. I drove by that accident this morning though and it did not appear to be related to anything of that sort it was North of Exit 289 about a half mile.
J.P. Moore says
Texting and driving again – maybe ?
Some body not paying attention again ?
How many accidents have been at this same location, lets count, and now same situation at 95 and Matanzas, something wrong with this picture. Should we wait and do something until there are more accidents?
Lt Frank says
Yep, I enter 95 at 45mph everyday. I don’t have a problem. I actually use my MIRRORS to see cars behind and beside me. Then I stretch my neck out the window and look at what’s coming down the right lane of 95 and adjust my speed and approach accordingly. Works every time !
The lack of FHP visibilty and or patrol.We need more black n tans. I drive the stretch every day and too many driving too fast weaving in and out. Big Trucks 70+mph…. The ramps arejust poor drivers being too cautious which becomes hazardous. Its flatout carelessness.
The lack of FHP visibilty and or patrol.We need more black n tans. I drive the stretch every day and too many driving too fast weaving in and out. Big Trucks 70+mph…. The ramps arejust poor drivers being too cautious which becomes hazardous. Its flatout carelessness.Hit the bricks at the speed limit
That has to be one of the worst off ramps, I hate it. Trucks don’t get over when you are trying to exit and I have had a few near misses.
Roll on 2 says
Another good example of why we need to bring back the national speed limit of 55! Traffic crash deaths were much lower when it was in effect.
Correct! On ramps are designed for us to accelerate to match the highway speed, so we can merge into it. I am frustrated by these people putsing vs accelerating – they cause accidents! So do the jerks who stay in the disappearing lane! They are supposed to merge over as the lane disappears, yet they’ll stay there and expect those in the correct lane to *slow down* for them! No I don’t think so Mr Oblivious. Then have the audacity to blow their horn at ME. Pffft. Follow the rules!