Just before the three-vehicle crash that killed two men and sent four people to the hospital Friday evening on State Road 100 in west Flagler, an eyewitness described what could have been another crash, involving his truck, a motorcyclist and the car driven by the woman who would eventually be at the center of the fatal wreck. And he described one of the victims in the crash that followed having been run-over by a vehicle immediately after the crash.
Patrick Spurgeon, 50, of Naples, described in an interview both incidents that until now had not been disclosed. One of the incidents adds more disturbing context and descriptions of the erratic and possibly reckless driving by Jennifer McFann, 48, immediately before the crash. The second raises questions as to what proved to be the fatal factor in one of the victims’ deaths—the crash or being run-over.
Neither details were noted in the Florida Highway Patrol’s preliminary crash report, and Spurgeon himself was only briefly interviewed by FHP investigators, who told him they’d be in touch with him if they needed more information. “I was so shook up and nervous and a mess, I guess I wasn’t a good witness at the time,” Spurgeon said. “It was really hard to process. It’s still a little rough for me right now. I just feel for those families. I start having flashbacks and thinking of what I saw.”
Spurgeon was at the wheel of his tractor trailer, driving west on State Road 100. He had just delivered a load in Orlando and was heading back to Palatka to pick up a load from the Georgia Pacific paper plant before heading north to Ohio.
Just past County Road 305, he described what happened: “I was cruising alone, it’s a dark night,” Spurgeon, who’s been driving trucks for six years, said. “She passed me literally just before the accident happened,” he said of the woman at the wheel of a Hyundai, who would turn out to be McFann. “She was wanting to get around me. But there was a motorcyclist coming east.”
The Two 911 Calls From the Crash Scene
The three vehicles, Spurgeon said—his semi, McFann’s Hyundai and the motorcycle, which he described as a “ninja” type bike—at that point were all parallel to each other, with the truck to the right of the eastbound lane, McFann passing it in the middle and into the westbound lane, and the motorcyclist, riding the other way, trying to avoid a collision.
“He had to almost get into the grass to keep from getting hit head on,” Spurgeon said of the motorcyclist (whose identity and sex is unknown), “and just after she cleared me and got into the right lane, that’s where everything happened, and it happened so fast.”
“I slapped on my brakes when she passed me,” reducing his speed into the 40s, he said, angered as he recalled that he was doing the speed limit as the driver was passing him at much faster speed. “When she passed me my radar said she was doing 81 mph.” As for the motorcyclist, “he wasn’t in the roadway but he was still probably on asphalt. I mean, she missed him by an inch. If his bike had went into the dirt or the grass, he would have lost control.”
Spurgeon spoke two days after the crash. He had called 911 at 7:33 p.m., as had Allen Rose, a 56-year-old Gainesville resident who works in Flagler and who’d also been driving west, back to Gainesville. Rose had called 911 at 7:31.
Rose in an interview from the scene Friday evening had described passing McFann earlier on SR100 as she was weaving. He was in front of her, keeping an eye on her headlights as she seemed to be coming up from behind him again, fast, just before the point of impact, and not slowing down. He moved left to avoid getting hit, he said, and immediately after that she ran into the Chevy S-10 pick-up that Ralph Pellicer, 43, was driving, with Jobe Podach, 35, and Cody Iglesias, 26, with him. All three are from Bunnell.
McFann, a Florida Highway Patrol report concluded, struck the Chevy S-10, sending it in the way of an oncoming Chevy Silverado driven by Miraj Patel, 18, of Ormond Beach. The Silverado, a much larger vehicle, appears to have sheared into and over the S-10 before ending on its side in a ditch.
One caller to 911, likely Rose, described McFann’s car as having been “all over the road” to the point where he had to “pull over to let [the] vehicle go around him [she] was driving so bad,” according to 911 notes.
“I actually moved, the car was turning left and this guy was coming behind me, I thought he might have been drinking when I passed him, and then he wasn’t stopping,” Rose says in the 911 call itself, “so I moved over to the left.” The Hyundai then went by him and struck the S-10.
By then Spurgeon had also reported to 911 the location in the field, to the south of the road, of one of the victims, who’d been ejected from the Chevy Silverado. He had positioned his truck in such a way as to shine the headlights on the victim’s location.
“It’s a fatal car accident, multiple victims laying in the road,” Spurgeon told the 911 dispatcher. He said he thought the body in the road was already deceased, and mentioned the person in the field. He could see four victims. “There’s one person hanging halfway out of the car, not moving at all,” he said. “There’s debris and people laying all throughout both lanes.”
Then he told the dispatcher another unreported detail until now, which may have raised questions as to what proved to be the fatal factor in this victim’s case—the crash or what followed: “One car just blew through here and ran over the person that was in the road,” Spurgeon tells the dispatcher.
“So another vehicle ran over the person?” the dispatcher asks.
“That was in the road, yes,” Spurgeon says, “the vehicle in front of me ran over the person in the road, because you can’t see the car that’s in the road because there’s no lights. It’s really, really, really bad.”
But that proved to have been an inaccurate statement by the witness. “Nobody ran over the body,” a Florida Highway Patrol investigator said several days after the crash. “The medical examiner confirmed that.” There were no marks on the body indicating that sort of contact.
McFann meanwhile was reported as being entrapped in the Hyundai and complaining of chest and neck pain. She was transported to Halifax hospital in Daytona Beach, as were Iglesias and August Deberri, 19, who’d been riding with Patel. Patel was treated and released from Florida Hospital Flagler.
Friday’s was the second crash with fatalities this year in Flagler. Three people have been killed on Flagler roads so far this year. FHP documented 31 deaths in various traffic crashes, including those involving pedestrians, in Flagler last year.
Fire Flight’s airlift of one of the victims in Friday’s crash. (Patrick Spurgeon video)
Rick Kang says
Very bad accident, but the NUTS are still driving! Was just driving from Deland to Bunnell on SR11 when a DUMBASS in a White VW was passing everyone(even on curves) at 90-100mph! He will kill someone one day unless he is stopped from driving NOW!
rick stevens says
Looks like my previous suspicions and comments were way off base. My apologies to people I may have offended.
Born and Raised Here says
I remember traveling that road for 2 years while attending Stetson Univ., getting my MBA. Had a lot of close calls with deers, and wild pigs. Very dark road with a lot of curves.
Jolene dehart says
I drive this road every morning delivering papers. Even during the extreme dense fog with zero visibilty, vehicles, semis, logging trucks are flying down the road at 70 miles an hour. They can not even see another vehicle until they are right on top of them. It’s shameful and a much higher police presence is necessary. I knew these young men, and I fear for my own life every morning.
Rick Kang says
May all the angels in heaven protect Jolene Dehart while she delivers papers on this very dangerous highway! Speeding during the FOG is totally INSANE!