Mower operator killed in crash with passing car

A St Johns County tractor operator, pulling a mower deck along US-1 north of Las Calinas Boulevard, was ejected from his vehicle around 11:50 a.m. today; after he traveled into the roadway, striking a passing vehicle.

The driver of the 2012 Kubota M7040D, 55 year-old Mark D Sowards of Elkton, was killed in the crash, according to a report from the Florida Highway Patrol delivered to Historic City News this afternoon.

Sowards was mowing the outside grass shoulder of US-1, traveling northbound. In an unsuccessful attempt to avoid a culvert, Sowards departed the outside shoulder and traveled into the outside lane, in front of an approaching passenger vehicle.

A 1997 Lexus 4-door sedan, driven by 46 year-old Wade Abern of Jacksonville, sustained $20,000 in damage when the front right of the car struck the left rear of the mower deck.

According to the traffic homicide report, Abern was wearing his seatbelt. Investigators say he was unable to avoid the collision. Abern rotated clockwise and came to a final rest across the northbound inside lane facing east, the report said.

Sowards was ejected from the tractor and struck his head on the roadway. After the collision, the tractor came to a final rest on its left side in the northbound lanes of US-1.

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