110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
Fatal crash closes traffic at Whitehair Bridge over S.R. 44
By Pat Andrews
posted Jul 27, 2012 - 2:24:32pm
State Road 44, where it crosses the St. Johns River into Lake County, was closed for a couple of hours in the early afternoon of July 26, after a fatal crash.
A 72-year-old man from Eustis died in the head-on crash. The Florida Highway Patrol has not released his name.
The FHP report said the man was on the Lake County side of the St. Johns River, traveling eastbound toward the Whitehair Bridge on S.R. 44 in a 1984 Ford Ranger around 12:30 p.m., when, "for unknown reasons," the truck crossed into the westbound lane, "causing a head on collision" with a 1997 Ford F150 pickup driven by Carolyn Long, 48, of Fruitland Park.
Her injuries were listed as "serious," as were those of her passengers Fidel Colunga Balderas and Jose Colungua Balderas, also of Fruitland Park. Their ages were not listed.
All three were transported to Orlando Regional Medical Center. The FHP had no updates on their condition July 27.
Beacon staffer Debbie Davis was traveling westbound on S.R. 44, when she came upon the accident scene. She had seen a sign at Spring Garden Avenue and S.R. 44 in DeLand saying "bridge closed," but hoped the bridge would be open when she got there.
She approached the bridge about 3 p.m. One lane of traffic was open then.
"I sat there for at least 10 minutes before I could go through," she said.
The accident scene was on the approach to the Whitehair Bridge over the St. Johns River, Davis said. She saw the engine compartment of a black pickup folded up like an accordion.
"It was upsetting once you got over the bridge to see what happened," Davis said.
She's sad for the fatality, she added.
The FHP investigation continues.
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