Linda Schoenholz, a 77-year-old Bunnell resident, died late Saturday night after driving her car into a retention pond off the Grand Reserve golf club in Bunnell, police report. Schoenholz was a resident of Grand Reserve since 2020.
The sheriff’s 911 center got a call at 10:01 p.m. about a “reckless” driver on the golf course. Bunnell Police Officer Alex Kilpatrick responded, and 10 minutes later found a sport utility vehicle–a 2021 white Honda–submerged near the 400 block of Grand Reserve Drive. Schoenholz lived at 107 Grand Reserve Drive.
“Its taillights were visible near the surface. The officer quickly stripped off his gun belt and entered the water alone in an effort to effect a rescue,” according to a Bunnell Police Department release.
Underwater, the officer broke a rear window using a punch device, but could not reach the occupant. Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies and Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedics arrived, dove in, and removed the woman, who was transported to AdventHealth Palm Coast, where she was pronounced deceased.
The Florida Highway Patrol responded and took over the investigation.
Kilpatrick took himself to the hospital for treatment. He had “multiple cuts on his hands from the glass after he punched the window with a device,” Bunnell Police Chief Dave Brannon, who was at the scene after the crash, said. “He had to clear the glass with his hands, he had nothing else on, and when I spoke to him he said the glass may have had some window film, window tint, so he felt it made it diff to get the glass out of the way.” Kilpatrick is among the new Bunnell Police Department’s class of new recruits hired within the past year.
John’s Towing, the Bunnell wrecker, pulled the vehicle out of the pond with its 50-ton Rotator Wrecker after the sheriff’s divers assisted in that operation as well.
“I was so impressed with our police chief driving all the way from DeLand in the middle of the night to come to the scene, drove through that bad weather,” John Rogers, the Bunnell commissioner and owner of the towing company, said. “It shows his professionalism.” Bunnell City Manager Alvin Jackson also reported to the scene to check on the operation. (Bunnell’s three towing companies are on a rotation, each called in turn by the Florida Highway Patrol. It was John’s Towing’s turn last night.)
The crash recalls a fatality resulting from similar circumstances when 77-year-old Shirley Nethery died on a December night in 2014 after driving her car off a boat ramp in the Hammock. In that incident, Nethery had been on Pamela Parkway, a narrow, unlit road that curves just before the boat ramp, but at the time had no signage and no clear delineations. Nethery kept going straight.
Saturday night’s fatality is the 11th road-related fatality in Flagler County this year.
Speculating, perhaps poor visibility from the weather conditions from the rain storm(s) that happened last night in Flagler county ? I was out on southern end of Belle Terre about an hour before that call. And with no reservation, the water on the freshly paved black asphalt was reflecting all kinds of light that made conditions difficult to operate a vehicle. There were also some puddles in the lanes at the edges of the road from the swales that had overflow of water. It’s not a perfect system, but with the right speed, worn tires, I could see hitting a patch of deeper water, how that might cause an accident. On the return trip of my commute, a tailgater almost rear ended me turning off Belle Terre & used my turn signal in advance and still nearly was bumped from behind. I hate being out in weather like that.
Jimbo99: Talking about hazardous conditions driving on Belle Terre is always hazardous so I can just imagine how much worst it is with bad weather. If one is not going beyond the speed limit, and this limit should be reduced already since there are more and more people on this road this is not the same road as it was 10-15 years ago, speeders get right on top of your tail and try to push people to go faster it doesn’t matter what lane your in. Then we have these intersections coming off communitites trying to cross over other lanes of oncoming speeding traffic which are all accidents waiting to happen, it presents a very dangerous situation to all, they should put in lights at those intersections or just do away with allowing those crossovers. And the most northern end of Belle Terre going towards Bunnell is a death trap with the speed of trucks, pick ups going 70-80 mph let alone the drunk drivers on a weekend through that area, The sheriff needs to set some speed traps out there and give these idiots some hefty fines. My condolences to this poor lady.
ULTRA MAGA says
Excellent Gina! But WAIT! More houses with more drivers will increase DEATH and INJURY on the Highways of Palm Coast!
Common Sense Growth in Palm Coast will only happen in Palm Coast when it’s leadership have Common Sense!
Belle Terre was a two lane Road when I first moved into FPC. My how things have changed.
The Voice Of Reason says
A heroic effort by those involved that sadly didn’t end well. Lots of courage by the officer to enter the water with a good chance of alligators present. Great work by all involved.
Sad, please be careful on the road.
Wow…the Police Chief drove all the way from Deland. I guess nothing affordable closer like say Bunnell or Palm Coast.
PC Neighbor says
Very sad she lost her life. Prayers for her family. Maybe she had a medical episode. Good job to the deputy who tried to save her. Hopefully he recovers quickly physically and emotionally.
Great job City of Bunnell Officers. You deserve a medal of honor.
Linda was SUCH a wonderful & amazing person!! :(
Please pray for all of us in mourning from this incident.
No, she did not have a medical condition; I assume she was pressured from a fast driver behind her & couldn’t see the upcoming turn w the bad weather. We love you Linda ❤️