GAINSEVILLE SUN

Two Ocalans killed in Gainesville crash

Published December 07. 2002 8:30AM

BY ERICH SEAN-PAUL SPIVEY
THE GAINESVILLE SUN


GAINESVILLE - Two Ocala residents died and six others, including four children, suffered serious injuries late Friday afternoon in a two-vehicle crash just east of the Gainesville Regional Airport.

John Wayne Alexander, 49, of Melrose was driving a Chevrolet truck west on State Road 26 that crashed into the side of a Buick Century that crossed into the roadway from NE 39th Avenue, Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Mike Burroughs said.

Paul Angelico, 67, of Ocala, the driver of the Buick, and Delores Angelico, 66, of Ocala, a front-seat passenger, were killed instantly. Christopher Graves, of Ocala, a 10-year-old boy sitting between them in the front seat, survived.

"It was just a big explosive power that crushed the two vehicles," said witness Kenneth Brown, who saw the accident in his rear-view mirror and helped get survivors out of the Buick. "The truck spun around, and the car got crushed and went into the woods."

Three others in the Buick - Michelle Graves, 17, of Ocala; and Krystle Chalich, 17, and Kristen Mann, 36, both of Saratoga, N.Y. - were transported to Shands at AGH and Shands at the University of Florida, Burroughs said.

John Alexander and his passenger, Jonathan D. Alexander, 16, both of Melrose, were also transported to area hospitals with serious injuries, Burroughs said.

All eight people involved in the crash were wearing seat belts, Burroughs said.

"Roads can be dangerous, but it wasn't the road that caused this crash," Burroughs said at the scene Friday night. "Driver error is what caused this crash. Somebody tried to make a turn too quick and turned in front of traffic. It's a basic violation of the right of way."

Burroughs and Brown said the Buick, traveling east on NE 39th Avenue past the Gainesville airport, stopped at the intersection, which is marked with a flashing red light and a stop sign. Then, the Buick tried to turn left on SR 26, but was hit by the truck traveling about 60 mph, which is the speed limit, Burroughs said.

The Buick came to rest in a wooded ditch area about 30 feet from the intersection. The truck stopped on the eastbound side facing in the opposite direction it had been traveling.

The entire front part of the truck was smashed, and the left front side of the Buick was crushed. Shattered glass covered the intersection, and the Buick's brake lights illuminated the roadway.

"The least amount of protection on a car is on the side," Burroughs said. "It normally only takes about a 20 mph impact into the side of a car to cause fatal injuries.

Burroughs said one of the teens in the back seat of the Buick suffered a broken femur.

All eight people involved in the crash were wearing seatbelts, Burroughs said.

"Roads can be dangerous, but it wasn't the road that caused this crash," Burroughs said at the scene Friday night. "Driver error is what caused this crash. Somebody tried to make a turn too quick and turned in front of traffic. It's a basic violation of the right of way."

Burroughs and Brown said the Buick, traveling east on Northeast 39th Avenue, stopped at the intersection, which is marked with a flashing red lights and a stop sign. Then, the Buick tried to turn left on State Road 26, but was hit by the truck traveling about 60 mph, which is the speed limit, Burroughs said.

The Buick came to rest in a wooded ditch area about 30 feet from the intersection. The truck stopped on the eastbound side in the opposite direction it was traveling.

The entire front part of the truck was smashed, and the left front side of the Buick was crushed. Shattered glass covered the intersection, and the Buick's brake lights illuminated the roadway.

"The least amount of protection on a car is on the side," Burroughs said. "It normally only takes about a 20 mph impact into the side of a car to cause fatal injuries. . . . These are deadly crashes."

Rescue crews tore off the Buick's roof to remove the survivors and the two deceased people.

The accident happened at 5:22 p.m. Friday just a few minutes before the sun set - 5:30. An unidentified Melrose firefighter was the first to report the accident.

Frank Weaver, a tow truck driver for Elite Towing, said the State Road 26-NE 39th Avenue intersection is deadly.

"I've picked up a dozen wrecks here myself," Weaver said. "When you're coming around this corner, it's a blind curve. This car pulls halfway out and didn't see the other one comin', boom, you got a wreck. There's too much speed.

"A lot of people have died on this curve," he said.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department, the Gainesville Fire Department and the Florida Highway Patrol responded to the scene. Light traffic was rerouted for about four hours.