Last Updated: 12:33 p.m.
Nehemiah Gilyard, an 18-year-old Bunnell resident and student-athlete at Flagler Palm Coast High School, was killed Sunday night (Feb. 14) in a single-vehicle crash on County Road 302, the narrow, unlit spur that branches off State Road 100 and ends at County Road 305 by Daytona North, or the Mondex.
The cause of the crash is unknown, the Florida Highway Patrol says. Gilyard was working–delivering pizzas for Hungry Howie–and heading east when, for unknown reasons, he veered across the opposite lane of traffic, went into a ditch and struck several trees. The site of the crash is about half a mile west of State Road 100.
The crash was first reported to Flagler County’s 911 dispatch center at 9:19 p.m. Callers reported that the vehicle, a gray SUV, was “crushed” on both sides, that it “may have been on fire at one time” and had rolled over several times. Flagler County Fire Rescue firefighter-paramedics were at the scene within six minutes. They reported that Gilyard was unconscious and entrapped, but moments later, they pronounced Gilyard deceased.
County Road 302 was shut down in both directions. Authorities requested that Volusia County’s Air One emergency helicopter, which is equipped with infrared night vision equipment, scan the area of the crash to ensure that there wasn’t another person aboard. The helicopter launched at 9:48 p.m. (Nothing was reported found.) The sheriff’s chaplain services were also requested.
Gilyard was a junior at FPC who was on the football and track teams for the past three years, and was on course to notch scholarships in either sport. School is off today in observance of Presidents’ Day, but the track team was scheduled for a morning practice. The district had sent grief counselors to the assist the team.
“We are shocked and saddened. Nehemiah was a great kid on the track team, the football team,” his track coach, Dave Halliday, said this morning before practice. “He just ran the 100 and the two relays on Friday night, and he led both relays to a win. Sometimes you just never know. Every moment is precious and you just can’t take anything for granted, kind of like Curtis two years ago.”
Curtis Gray, an 18-year-old track athlete on Halliday’s team at FPC, was shot and killed in April 2019 outside a Palm Coast business.
“We’re having practice,” Halliday said, “We may practice, we may not, we may just talk, we may just hug, whatever we need to do. We’ll have counselors there. Obviously it’s terrible and shocking news.” He said the team will “grieve together and stay together as a team and we’ll take care of one another.”
Around midday Bobby Bossardet, the acting principal at FPC, issued a robocall message to students and families. “This is a very sad day for the students, the faculty and colleagues of the Bulldog family,” he said. “Our staff and students are saddened by the news of the death of one of our students last night following a tragic accident. To provide support for our students and staff, we will have the district’s crisis-response team assisting our counselors and helping the students cope with this tragedy. They’ll be on our campus tomorrow morning, and the extra staff will remain on our campus as long as needed. I ask the parents to take time to talk with their children, understand the grieving process. It’s different for different people.”
It is the second such shock to FPC’s community in two months. In Early December, the school lost Tom Russell, its popular and charismatic principal since 2019, to covid-19.