Unusual Bay County Traffic Accidents 2016 – A Reporter’s Review of Four Creepy, Humorous, Enlightening and Sadly Tragic Traffic Accidents in 2016
Bay Community News
Kevin Earl Wood, Investigative Reporter
January 12, 2017 (Type Ctrl + or Ctrl – on Your MS Windows Computer Keyboard for Easier Reading)
(Updated January 26, 2017)
Since 1978 this reporter has lived in a rural community known as Bayou George that is about 10 miles north of Panama City, Bay County, Florida near the intersection of Highway 231 north and County Road 2301. If you blink when you pass the intersection then you would have passed Bayou George missing it. My home is located just off of 2301.
Over the last year I’ve come across traffic accidents that were entertaining and humorous, enlightening and on one occasion sadly tragic for a 91 year elderly woman from Youngstown who did not survive her accident on Highway 231 just south of Bayou George. This is my story to share with you about the accidents I’ve seen and compiled them in my report below.
Night Time, Dark, Creeeeepy Accident…
One evening I left my home in Bayou George at about 8:00 pm on my motorcycle after dark and began to travel south on 2301 heading to 231. Just before I reached 231 I came upon a car, later discovered to be a 2007 ford Taurus, front-first in a ditch by the side of the 2301 northbound lane about a quarter mile north of the 231 intersection.
I stopped and parked my motorcycle on the shoulder of the southbound lane. It was pitch black out.
I then crossed the road and approached the vehicle in the ditch. The driver’s side window was rolled down but it was so dark I couldn’t see anything inside the vehicle. It was pitch-black and there were no street, or other, lights. And, I didn’t have a flashlight with me.
In the dark of the night I called into the vehicle’s open driver’s side window to see if I could get a response in case there was anybody in the vehicle. Their was no response and I presumed that the driver, and passengers if any, must have left the scene to go elsewhere.
I then got this bright idea to reach into the vehicle to unlock the door just to double check to see if anybody was in the vehicle and hurt or unconscious needing help.
To make sure there was nobody in the vehicle I reached in through the rolled-down window and was momentarily shocked when my hand touched the arm and shoulder of a person, or God forbid a body, that was in the driver’s side seat.
I called loudly several times but I got no response from the pitch-black interior of the vehicle.
I had forgotten to take my cell phone with me so I tried to flag down three or four vehicles that wouldn’t stop and kept going right on by. I had no way to call 911 from the accident scene.
I then rode my motorcycle south about a quarter of a mile to the convenience store at the intersection of 2301 and 231 and used their phone to call 911. I then rode back to the accident scene. Again, I tried speaking through window to the person inside trying to get a response from whomever was inside.
Shortly thereafter Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Trooper Logan Richardson arrived at the scene. Trooper Richardson went to the car in the ditch with his flashlight opened the car door. He found that the driver inside was alive but unconscious. I didn’t see any damage to the car that appeared to be just stuck front-first in the ditch. I then left on my motorcycle with the deputy’s permission.
I later received a press release by email from Captain Robert Ifft, FHP Panama City District Highway Patrol Commander, that reported that the driver was intoxicated, and thankfully not seriously injured or ill.
OOOPS, Which Way is Up?
On another day I again left my home in Bayou George to go into town by, again, County Road 2301 and Highway 231 south.
Just south of the 2301 and Kiser Road intersection there is a small and very narrow bridge that crosses 2301 and a small creek that runs underneath the bridge. All the locals know the bridge well.
The bridge was an accident waiting to happen for many years and my later recommendations to Bay County road officials to replace the bridge with a wider bridge have fallen on deaf ears.
The bridge is located between the two Garner-owned hardware and Piggly Wiggly stores on 2301 north and south of the Kiser Road intersection.
I myself have had to cross over the bridge literally hundreds of times since 1978 when I was stationed at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City and moved to Bayou George.
Folk that drive across the bridge realize how narrow the bridge is and when two cars going each way meet at the bridge a lot of us just slow down and let the oncoming car, or pickup or, most nerve-wracking, an eighteen wheeler,
go first. Two cars going over the the bridge at the same time, from each direction, can barely fit across the bridge.
When I turned left off of Kiser to go south on 2301 I could see the bridge and blocking the bridge was a car that was turned up on its side in the middle of the bridge stretched across the bridge from one side to the other.
Being the nosy reporter that I am, I parked on the shoulder of the road, got out and took some pictures. Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, or worse, as a result of the accident according to the officers at the scene.
Snail-Mail is Usually Slow Gettin’ to Your Mailbox, But This Makes It Worse…
On another day I was coming home after doing some shopping in town and decided to take Highway 77 northbound through Lynn Haven, over the Bailey Bridge and into Southport where I made a right turn on what all the locals call the “Dam Road.”
About a year ago I was at home in Bayou George and called the American Legion in Southport and asked how to become a member. A nice lady that worked there answered the phone and told me about the perks of Post 375, which I have since joined.
I then asked the lady how to drive from Bayou George to get there and she said to me, “Just Take the Dam Road.” I thought she was cussing at me but then I remembered that “The Dam Road” is just the road, Highway 77A, that crosses over the Deer Point Lake Dam that connects Highway 77 to Highway 231 just south of Bayou George. All the locals affectionately refer to it as the “Dam Road.”
After I crossed over the dam heading east I came upon a Highway Patrol vehicle and a pickup truck stopped in front of a very nice home and the homeowner standing in her front of her home near what used to be her mailbox. The driver of the pickup truck was sitting on the tailgate of his truck.
The driver of the pickup had lost control of his truck heading westbound on Highway 77A and struck, and destroyed, the lady’s pretty brick mailbox.
Hello, Hello, Can You Hear Me Now….Crrrraaaash
As a disabled Vietnam era veteran I go to medical appointments at the Naval Support Activity (NSA) VA Clinic on Thomas Drive, Panama City Beach. A new modern VA clinic just south of the Navy base off Thomas Drive has recently opened its doors to veterans from all branches of service. Veterans no longer have the hassle of getting cleared at the gate to get on the facility.
After my appointment I again came upon another accident just outside the NSA main gate. The front end of one of the vehicles was substantially damaged.
The damaged vehicle was traveling behind two other cars and rear-ended the car just ahead of the driver. That car was then pushed into a third vehicle up front.
My first thought was that the severely damaged car in the back either had faulty brakes or the driver wasn’t paying attention and failed to stop behind the car in front of him which turned out to be the case.
When I spoke to the police officer investigating the accident he advised me that he had found two cell phones on the front seat of the vehicle. He also told me that he would be securing the two cell phones for later forensic study to determine if any calls were made by the driver at the time he rear-ended the two vehicles in front of him.
The two vehicles in front were not seriously damaged and drove off for minor repairs. The badly damaged car could not be driven and was towed from the accident scene.
Two Tragic Accidents, Same Elderly Driver, 91
On the evening of November 12, 2016 about 7 pm it was dark and there was a police vehicle and a tow-truck loading a damaged vehicle at a median cross-way just south of the Any Day Cafe at 5615 North Highway 231 near the intersection of Highway 231 and Julie Drive.
It was a two-vehicle accident and one driver, Ms. Otill C. Dabbs, 91, from Youngstown, was driving one vehicle. When she pulled out into the 231 southbound traffic she was struck on her drivers side door by the southbound vehicle.
When I arrived the reporters from MyPanhandle.Com had already come and left with their story that they published later that evening. All of the emergency vehicles, fire trucks and ambulances were gone by the time I happened upon the scene of the accident. The accident had occurred about two hours prior to my arrival.
MyPanhandle.Com reported the accident on their website and included a picture of the accident they had taken before I arrived. It was dark by the time I arrived at the scene.
I didn’t get any good pictures because I did not have a flash camera with me and had only my cell phone with no flash.
In the picture I did take you could see the bright lights of the tow truck that was about to tow Ms. Dabbs’ vehicle. Florida Highway Patrol Trooper W.A. Mathers was standing behind the tow truck casually talking with the tow truck driver who was about to tow the vehicle.
While this tragedy involving Ms. Dabbs was terrible enough, I later discovered that she had sadly been involved in, and caused, another recent accident about three months earlier in August when she struck a motorcycle being driven by Ms. Sherry Hall.
It was reported that Ms. Hall was not wearing a helmet and was later pronounced dead at Bay Medical/Sacred Heart Hospital in Panama City.
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