Last Updated: Tuesday, 6:55 a.m.
The U.S. 1 intersection at the White Eagle Lounge in Korona has claimed another victim, the 6th person to be killed in a traffic crash there in nine months.
At 3:21 this afternoon, motorcyclist Gordon Therrien, 60, of Claremont, N.H., was killed in a collision with a semi truck. Therrien was pronounced dead at the scene almost immediately after the crash, as Flagler County Sheriff’s deputies arrived there.
The crash followed the same pattern as previous fatal and serious crashes there, where motorists get in collisions either as they attempt to cross the highway or as they merge onto U.S. 1 from a significant dip on the east side of the highway.
In this case, the motorcyclist appears either to have been crossing U.S. 1 from the Eagle Lounge, to go south on U.S. 1, or merging onto traffic, when a semi truck driving north collided with the front of the motorcycle, tearing off the front wheel and catapulting the rider about 30 yards north of where the bike fell. (Late Monday, investigators confirmed that Therrien was riding west on Old Dixie Highway and was seeking to cross U.S. 1 to make a left and go south when the collission occurred.)
The 2016 Harley Davidson Ultra and Therrien came to rest across the middle of the two northbound lanes of U.S. 1.
The front of the semi truck was intact. But its passenger-side metal step was torn off from the step and stretched parallel to the truck (see the image below), strongly suggesting that the truck somehow clipped the motorcycle–or that the motorcycle collided with the stepper.
Abraham Cannon, 57, of Hollister, Fla., drove the truck, a 2016 Peterbilt registered to A & CC Express. It was pulling an empty flatbed. it drove on about 150 yards and pulled over on the left side of the highway. The driver was at the scene, speaking on his cell phone or walking around the cab of his truck.
Therrien was initially initially and incorrectly reported to be a woman. “Wasn’t a woman it was a man,” Patrice Harris wrote to FlaglerLive, “I was there assisting aide with another gentleman giving the now angel CPR. I prayed for him when I noticed there was [no] more life in him. I came home to bloody hands and work clothes ( I literally just got off work ) but a nurse’s job doesn’t have to be just done in the hospital. Condolences to his family.”
It was the second fatality in three days and the third serious crash, the second involving a motorcycle, on Flagler County roads. A 10-year-old girl was killed in a single-vehicle crash on I-95 Friday evening. A man crashed his motorcycle at Seminole Woods and Citation Parkway Sunday night and was taken to Halifax hospital in critical condition. The Florida Highway Patrol has not responded to a request for updates on the man’s condition since, nor provided his identity.
The White Eagle intersection was the scene of the year’s deadliest crash in February when five people riding in the same car were killed in a three-vehicle wreck, again as the vehicle was attempting to cross U.S. 1. That crash also took place in daylight and in normal driving conditions–no rain, no fog. But the intersection has been notorious for its dangers, as three roads meet there–Old Dixie Highway, County Road 325, and U.S. 1. The state Transportation Department had been studying the intersection and said it would make safety improvements there after the February crash, but little changed other than striping on the pavement.
The crash closed the segment of U.S. 1 immediately north of the intersection, but northbound traffic was merely diverted through the White Eagle parking lot and back onto U.S. 1 a little distance further north. Southbound traffic was not impeded.
The Sheriff’s Office was holding the scene in anticipation of a Florida Highway Patrol traffic homicide investigator’s arrival. FHP arrived on scene one hour after the crash. The body, still on the highway, was covered with a yellow tarp and surrounded by five orange and white traffic cones, awaiting the arrival of the medical examiner, who comes in from St. Augustine. He arrived at the scene at 5:15 p.m.
Around that time, State Road A1A in the Hammock, at Shady Lane, was shut down in both direction following a collision between a vehicle and a person on a motorcycle. But the victim was conscious.
Last February Sheriff Rick Staly had written the state transportation secretary, clamoring for better safety improvements at the intersection–and echoing similar public clamor, which picked up again today. “While I am not a traffic engineer,” Staly wrote at the time, “I do not believe lowering the speed limit alone is a viable solution. Our agency and FHP do not have sufficient staffing levels to enforce the speed limit to the level necessary to have an impact on the traffic flow. Drivers will just continue to exceed the speed limit and those that are caught will just incur a larger fine. To me this is not a solution. My recommendation would be to install a fully functioning traffic signal along with signage north and south of the intersection on U.S. 1 warning drivers they are approaching a traffic signal. This is needed because of the proximity of the curves to the intersection,” both on the north and south sides of the intersection.”