Deadly and dangerous weekend on St Johns County highways

400-NIGHT-FHPSeveral crashes and motor vehicle fatalities have been reported to Historic City News in St Augustine over the past four days; including a semi-trailer consumed in fire, an SUV overturned on a county highway, and a runaway trailer wreaking havoc on Interstate motorists.

Thursday afternoon at about 2:10 p.m., the Florida Highway Patrol, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel responded to a call reporting a 2012 Kenworth Semitractor-trailer rig on the shoulder of northbound I-95, fully engulfed in flames.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation; however, according to the report by Corporal Brian Wood, as the vehicle exited the roadway, it collided with the tree line, igniting the fire.

The driver, 69-year-old Kenneth Elton Varnes of Hampton, FL, suffered fatal injuries when he was unable to exit the vehicle after the collision, the traffic homicide report indicated.

The fire was extinguished by St Johns County Fire Rescue, and the vehicle was removed by John’s Wrecker Service. The roadway was partially closed for approximately 4 hours for cleanup purposes.

About 9:50 p.m. the following night, a 23-year-old Hastings woman, Maude May Walker, was flown to the Trauma Center at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center after she crashed her 2004 Toyota 4-RUNNER on SR-207 near Spuds.

Trooper Dean Lewis told Historic City News reporters that Walker was traveling southbound on SR-207, north of the intersection of SR-206 when, for reasons still under investigation, she lost control of her vehicle. The vehicle went into a spin and overturned several times causing about $10,000 in damage, Lewis reported.

The SUV came to rest on its top in the wooded area along the west edge of the highway and the driver was ejected onto the shoulder. Walker was not wearing her seatbelt and alcohol has not yet been ruled out as a contributing factor in this crash. Charges are pending the outcome of the investigation.

Last night at approximately 8:25 p.m., a utility trailer being towed behind a 2007 Ford F250 pickup truck, became detached — overturning and coming to rest in the inside lane of I-95 southbound, obstructing the roadway.

Two Florida men occupied the vehicle; the driver, 58-year-old Edwin Eugene Goodbread who lives in Port St Lucie, and the passenger, 61-year-old Youell Thomas Housch who lives in Loxahatchee.

The 28-year-old driver of a 2002 Nissan Altima following behind the vehicles, Jesus Pineda who resides in Palm Coast, failed to observe the obstructed roadway after the trailer became detached and crashed into the overturned trailer causing about $5,000 in damage to his vehicle.

According to the collision report, at least two other secondary crashes occurred as a result of drivers not observing the trailer on the dark highway.

Pineda was stabilized at the scene by St Johns County Fire Rescue personnel and transported by air ambulance with critical injuries to the Trauma Unit at Shands Jacksonville Medical Center.

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