A 21-year-old Palm Coast woman driving alone was killed in a single-vehicle crash on Old Kings Road shortly before midnight Sunday.
The crash was reported to 911 less than two minutes before midnight when the caller reported a vehicle on fire in the woods, about a mile and a half north of Town Center Boulevard. The vehicle was fully engulfed in flames past the east shoulder of the road, and starting to burn adjoining trees.
The Florida Highway Patrol reported that the woman had been driving south when her car, a sedan, veered off into the northbound lanes then into the woods, striking a tree and igniting the fire. The cause of her losing control of the car is unknown for now. But for occasional light poles at intersections, Old Kings Road is unlit from just south of Palm coast Parkway to Town center Boulevard.
The Palm Coast Fire Department and Flagler County Fire Rescue responded, extinguishing the flames. (Units of the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office had initially responded.) The woman was pronounced deceased at the scene at 16 minutes after midnight. Old Kings Road was shut down in both directions as FHP conducted the investigation.
The fatal crash, the sixth since Sept. 1, is the 17th fatality on Flagler County roads this year, according to FHP. County roads have been the site of 1,065 crashes so far this year, 513 of them resulting in injuries to 796 people. There wee 28 road fatalities and 973 injuries from crashes in the county last year.
There is no indication that lighting was a factor in the crash. Nevertheless, Old Kings Road remains one of the darker, major arteries in the city. A 2018 analysis of street lighting for Palm Coast government placed the stretch of Old Kings Road from Oak Trails to Town center Boulevard low on the priority list. The analysis found a higher concentration of crashes on the stretch between Palm Coast Parkway and Utility Drive, on Old Kings–and that stretch was subsequently lit. (The analysis found 100 crashes in the stretch from Utility Drive to Palm Coast Parkway, compared to 37 crashes from oak Trails to Town center Boulevard, in the period under study.)
The analysis recommended that the stretch to Town center Boulevard would be lit in Years 6 and 7, from the time of the study–in other words, in 2024 and 2025.
When the city requests that a street be lit, Florida Power and Light installs the poles and lights at its own expense, then bills the city. The analysis at the time found that lighting that portion of Old Kings Road would cost the city between $2,837 and $4,164 a month, or between $34,164 and $50,000, depending on the pole spacing. If 200 lights were installed, the cost would be $3,838 a month, or $46,000 a year.
The federal Department of Transportation annually calculates what it calls the Valuation of a Statistical Life–literally, what the government values a human life in dollars. The figure in 2022 was $12.5 million.