[UPDATE] Results of Fatal Accident on Capital Circle NE Investigation

By: Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro, Lanetra Bennett Email
By: Eyewitness News, Julie Montanaro, Lanetra Bennett Email

[UPDATE] 2-16 6:42pm

Tallahassee police have just released their report on a tanker crash that killed Ellie Lauren Barfield back in September.

While Barfield's blood alcohol level was almost triple the legal limit the tanker driver was determined to be at fault.

The investigative report was released this morning exactly five months since the crash.

The report says Ellie Lauren Barfield died from blunt head trauma; and now the driver of the tanker is being cited for failure to yield right of way.

Tallahassee resident Sandra Klein says she remembers when her normal drive down Capital Circle Northeast in Tallahassee turned deadly.

It was around midnight last September 16th.

Klein says she was able to stop just short of colliding with the tanker blocking the road.

Then, she says, she heard brakes screeching.

"I turned to my left and saw this vehicle go past me and it unfortunately went right into the tanker truck."

35-year-old Ellie Lauren Barfield was killed on the scene.

The investigative report is finally complete and it says the driver of the tanker, 37-year-old Dave Browning of Perry, is primarily at fault.

Klein said, "I was kind of angry that the truck had been in the road."

The report says Browning was leaving the BP/McKenzie Mart on Capital Circle, but stopped in the median because a car was coming in the southbound lanes.

Klein and Barfield were driving northbound.

The report says Barfield's red Honda SUV skid for about 100 feet before crashing into the tanker carrying eight thousand pounds of petroleum.

Klein said, "I did start to get out of my car to see if I could go help in any way. When I started to get out, I saw the gas leaking from the tanker. I got back into the car and pulled into the BP Station and ran inside and told them to call 911."

The toxicology screening reveals Barfield's blood alcohol level was .22, which is nearly three times the legal driving limit.

Tallahassee Police Spokesperson Officer David McCranie said, "We'll never know how much the alcohol had to do with ultimately the crash. It's a very tragic set of circumstances."

The report also says the driver worked more hours in a week than allowed by law, and the semi-truck's reflective tape was 24 inches higher than it should have been.

The vice president of Ware Oil Company, Doug Everette, says Browning is a good driver who has driven more than two million accident-free miles.

Everette says the company's insurance company and legal team will fight Browning's citation for failure to yield to right-of-way because he says Barfield would have been able to stop like the other driver had she not been impaired.

Browning is still employed as a truck driver for the company.


[UPDATE] 2-16 10:25AM --

TPD as released the investigation report in a fatal accident that happened on Capital Circle NE on September 16.

The driver of of the truck tractor was primarily at fault for the crash, according to the report. The driver was cited for "failure to yield right of way by a vehicle entering highway from private road or driveway or emerging from alley, driveway or building." In addition, the truck driver was over his amount of serviceable hours.

According to the toxicology report, Ellie Barfield had positive quantitative results for ethanol with the results of 0.22 g/dl. Per Florida Statute 316.193, a person is under the influence of alcoholic beverages when affected to the extent that the person's normal faculties are impaired. The person has a blood-alcohol level of 0.08 or more grams of alcohol per 100 milliliters.

A witness, traveling in the same direction, saw the obstruction and came to a complete stop without being involved in a crash.

Barfield slammed on her brakes. The vehicle skid for approximately 100 feet and crashed into the tanker.

Ellie Lauren Barfield received blunt head trauma that caused her untimely death.

The full report is attached above


UPDATED 9.27.2010 11:54am

Officer David McCranie with the Tallahassee Police Department stated that the investigation into the fatal crash that took the life of Lauren "Ellie" Barfield, 35, is still pending as of September 27.

WCTV will bring you details into the investigation of what caused the crash as it becomes available.


UPDATED 9.21.2010 12:13pm

Officer David McCranie with the Tallahassee Police Department stated that the investigation into the fatal crash that took the life of Lauren Barfield, 35, is still pending. Officer McCranie did not give any further details.

WCTV will bring you details into the investigation of what caused the crash as it becomes available.


UPDATED 9.17.2010 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro

DOT crews finished re-paving the northbound lanes and re-opened all lanes to traffic before 5pm.

[UPDATE] (9/17 9:02am) --

Julie Montanaro reports that a Department of Transportation spokesperson stated that a section of Capital Circle NE that was damaged by gasoline seeping into the roadway will be replaced today, September 17.

Crews will be working on Capital Circle NE from 9AM to 3PM. If the crew has not finished by rush hour, they will take a break until the evening to finish.

There will be a delay on the Capital Circle NE northbound lanes, between Wednesday and Greer Roads. Only one northbound lane will be open as crews work.


Updated By: La'Tasha Givens at 11:00pm

Thirty-five year-old Lauren Barfield died early Thursday morning and her best friend is speechless.

"Oh my God, I can't even..I can't even (crying) put into words the loss I feel right now. She's my best friend" says, Ashley Hudson.

Authorities say Barfield's SUV and a gasoline tanker truck collided after midnight. Her well known vehicle decorated in University of Alabama memorabilia was stuck underneath the tanker. Officers say she died on the scene.

"We just do everything together. I mean we talk everyday. She's the first person who calls me and the last person who calls me," says Hudson.

The last text message Hudson received from Barfield came last night. It reads "congratulations! I love you with all my life." Hudson had just become engaged moments before.

"I haven't gone a day in the last two years that I haven't talked to her. I still can't understand that I'm not going to talk to her anymore."

Loved ones say her big blue eyes would light up any room. Barfield was a nurse and was looking for her next job. Her friends say her kind spirit transcended in every part of her life.

Mary Gibson another one of Barfields friends says, "She appeared to be the type of person that would give you the shirt off of her back."

"Lauren has this contagious laugh and if she was in the room you were laughing," says, Gibson

"She was just an amazing person," says Hudson.


UPDATED 9.16.2010 6:45pm by Latasha Givens

An attorney for crash victim Ellie Lauren Barfield says the 35 year old was a former nurse, looking for work.

"The family is very upset and very much in shock," family friend and attorney John Eagan said. "Her mother is 65 years old and is not in good health. I mean this is truly a tragedy what happened."

"You are probably missing out on knowing a person that would give or do whatever she could for other people. The family lost a very close loving person but in a way they gained an angel today," Eagan said.


UPDATED 9.16.2010 6pm by Julie Montanaro

Road crews hauled in a final load of sand at about 11am trying to soak up any gasoline left at the scene of the crash and make sure motorists could drive on this stretch of Capital Circle NE without skidding or slipping.

Yet the seeping oil did enough damage, a DOT spokesman said, that this patch of asphalt will have to be ripped up and replaced as soon as Friday which could prompt even more delays.

Many businesses along this road remained closed and dark until noon time. The owner of this Subway estimates the road closure cost him hundreds of breakfast and lunchtime customers.

"Lights are dark and no one's in the parking lot," said Brian Smith, owner of the Subway on Capital Circle NE."As you can see we are standing in the middle of Capital Circle at lunchtime and there's no traffic so it's affecting everybody's business."

"The drive in was just ... it was horrible," said Tom Harrison. Harrison walked about four blocks to reach his design business and then four blocks back with plans in hand.

"It's just an inconvenience, but it's nothing compared to what the family of the person who died is going through," Harrison said.

Many motorists tried to squeeze onto other roads during morning rush hour and wound up bumper to bumper.

A city traffic count estimates 55-thousand cars travel this stretch of road every day.

Ours were the only cameras rolling when the road was re-opened at about 11:25 nearly 12 hours after the deadly collision.

UPDATED 9.16.2010 at 3:15 by Julie Montanaro

Tallahassee Police have just released the identity of the tanker driver. Police say he is Dave W. Browning,37, of Perry, Florida .

The vice president of Ware Oil says Browning is physically fine, but shaken up. Vice President Doug Everett calls him an "experienced driver."

"Ware Oil is a family-owned company," Everett said. "Our hearts go out to the victim's family."

Everett said he could not comment on the specifics of the crash, but says Browning had stopped at the McKenzie Market to use the restroom, not to service the gas pumps. Browning has been working with Ware Oil for more than a year and was on his regular route, Everett said.
UPDATED 9.16.2010 at 3:10 by Julie Montanaro

Gasoline has reached a holding pond on Wednesday Street a few blocks from the scene of the crash. The City of Tallahassee has crews on scene taking water samples and DEP's Bureau of Emergency Response is on scene too, helping to deploy boom and vacuum contaminated sediments out of the drainage system.

"We're going to suck up all the sediment up from the BP gas station all the way down and then we'll clean the line out from one end to the other. We set up boom down at the pond to contain anything that comes in there," said DEP emergency response specialist John Johnson. He was standing in front of a tanker truck with a long hose extended into a manhole on Wednesday Street.

A sheen is visible on the surface of that holding pond. We also spotted a dead frog and some dead fish, but have no way to know if that is the result of the gasoline spill or not.

[UPDATE] (9/16 12:29PM) --

Eyewitness News reporter Julie Montanaro was at the scene:

An early morning crash takes a life, and blocks off a major Tallahassee roadway. It happened just after midnight this morning (9/16), as a tanker was leaving a gas station right out front of the newly opened Mackenzie Market on Capital Circle NE.

Authorities say as the tanker filled with 3-thousand gallons of gas was leaving .. a car headed north collided with it and the driver of the car was killed. She is identified as 35-year-old Ellie Barfield of Tallahassee.

This road had been shut down for nearly 12 hours. Investigators worked the crash scene and tried to clean up an estimated 15-hundred gallons of gasoline that spilled. DOT tested and sanded the road, finally opening the road to traffic at about 11:25 a.m.

Capital Circle at almost any time is bad for traffic. Rush hour this morning was gridlock as people tried to get to work.

Many businesses along this section have not even opened their doors because neither employees nor customers could get to those places of business.

They will have to replace this section of road because so much gasoline seeped in. A DOT spokesman confirms that the crash damaged the asphalt and must be replaced. Officials hope to schedule that for September 17, but no exact time has been set yet.

There is also a holding pond three blocks away that was contaminated.


[UPDATE] (9/16 11:28AM) --

Both lanes of Capital Circle NE have now been opened.


[UPDATE] (9/16 10:22AM) --

Eyewitness News reports that the Department of Transportation has been taking asphalt samples at the scene of the fatal crash on Capital Circle NE. The samples will be used to determine if the road has been compromised because of the gasoline leeching into the asphalt. DOT is also waiting on sand to soak up the gas-soaked spots on the road.

The Northbound lane is still closed from Centerville to Greer.

Ellie Barfield, 35 from Tallahassee, was the driver that collided with the gas tanker. Barfield died in the crash.

TPD has issued another press release, which can be found above.


[UPDATE] (9/16 10:22AM) --

Alternative Routes Suggested Due to Morning Traffic Delays

Following an early morning crash and subsequent clean up and recovery efforts, Capital Circle NE is closed between Centerville Road and Lonnbladh Road. Motorists traveling in northeast Tallahassee should expect significant delays. As such, officials are urging motorists to avoid Capital Circle NE and Thomasville Road altogether and use I-10 to access either North Monroe Street or Mahan Drive/Tennessee Street.

The City of Tallahassee’s Traffic Management Center suggests that, if possible, motorists traveling south into town from the northeast area should use I-10 west to Monroe Street. Thomasville Road is open, but traffic is moving slowly.

The Tallahassee Police Department has set up a detour around the Capital Circle NE closure. Northbound traffic is being redirected to Centerville Road to Olson Road to Lonnbladh Road to Capital Circle. Southbound traffic is using the same route in the opposite direction.

The closure is anticipated to last until at least mid-day.

Authorities are aware of the strong odor of gasoline in the area. Tallahassee Fire Department HAZMAT has responded.


[UPDATE] (9/16 9:41AM) --

Capital Circle NE Southbound is now open, and Northbound is still closed according to Officer Susan Newhouse with the Tallahassee Police Department.


[UPDATE] (9/16 8:41AM) --

The Tallahassee Police Department has issued a press release:

Early this morning, at approximately 12:15AM, the Tallahassee Police Department and the Tallahassee Fire Department responded to 2315 Capital Circle Northeast (BP Gas Station-McKenzie Mart), in reference to a traffic crash with injuries. Upon arrival officers discovered that a gasoline tanker truck pulled out onto the roadway on Capital Circle Northeast. A vehicle traveling northbound on Capital Circle Northeast drove into the tanker truck.

The driver of the vehicle that struck the tanker truck succumbed to their injuries on scene. Their name is not being released at this time until the next of kin can be notified.

Authorities are aware of the strong odor of gasoline in the area. Due to the Tallahassee Fire Department HAZMAT needing to contain the scene for precautionary measures and the Tallahassee Police Department’s Traffic Homicide Unit conducting a traffic crash investigation, the southbound and northbound lanes of Capital Circle Northeast from Centerville to Greer Road, will be closed.

The following will be the route of travel starting at 4AM and will continue until the mid-morning hours:

Northbound Traffic will be redirected to:

Centerville Road to Olson Road to Lonnblah Road
Lonnbladh Road to Capital Circle

Southbound Traffic will be redirected:

Lonnbladh Road to Olson Road to Centerville Road
Centerville Road to Capital Circle

The full press release is attached above.


An early morning crash issues one fatality, and blocks off a major road.

Police say after about midnight this morning, a tanker was leaving Mackenzie Mart on Capital Circle North East.

They say that a tanker pulled out onto the road, and a car ran into the tanker. Police are not releasing the name of the victim at this time. The investigation is still ongoing, but they are concerned about the gas leak, which has contaminated a nearby holding pond.

Authorities say that traffic will be re-routed beginning at 4 this morning, because gas is still on the road.

All northbound and southbound traffic will be re-routed starting at Centerville and Capital Circle Northeast as follows:
Centerville Road to Olson Road to Lonnbladh Road and then back out onto Capital Circle Northeast.

Authorities expect this to last until the mid-morning hours.

WCTV will have more updates as the become available.

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  • by anonymust Location: Tallahassee on Aug 22, 2011 at 07:01 PM
    She was probably going at least 55mph and maybe even 65mph to leave a 100 ft skid mark with a suv. Its good it wasnt a broke down bus full of kids on an overnight field trip that she hit or that the tanker didnt explode and kill the other driver close by or the truck driver. Most drunk drivers arnt really into any kind of defensive driving where they can be watching out for their neighbor. Im sorry for the lady and her family and more of us have done it when we wernt supposed to and made it safely than people may know. Even though there was a mistake with the truck driver and some fault with him and the truck company, it may be that if she hadnt been at that level of alcohol she may have been able to look out for him and and for things to have not been so tragic. Again my condolences to her family. Im concerned here and writing because of what has happened to people I know and their family from attempting to drive drunk.
  • by Me. on Feb 17, 2011 at 04:57 PM
    The non impaired driver stated to the police that she did NOT see the tanker until she was right up on it. She said that she slowed down NOT because she saw the tanker but because the road was dark and the lights behind the tanker (blocking the road) were obscured by the truck. Ms. Barfield was drinking, yes, this has been established. But it does not negate the five (count them FIVE) offenses this driver had. Big business is trying to buy their way out of this one...
  • by Anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 03:53 PM
    Read the full report. Clear skies. No fog. hum interesting.Look up the weather for that night. If you couldn't see that big tanker truck you should not be able to drive at all. I am glad my family was not on the road that night.
  • by Anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:24 AM
    It wasnt the tankers fault. it was the girls. Its unfortunate, but one, she was way beyond drunk. And for all of you crying foul weather, well again this was still her fault. If it was dark and foggy, well she shouldn't have been driving so fast as to not leave herself enough time to react to a situation like this. Again, her fault. Stop trying to make excuses.
  • by Serena Location: Tallahassee on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:48 AM
    I'm very sorry for the family members of this girl who lost her life. To make any sense of it, we should use it as a reminder to not drink and drive. Even a couple of drinks can slow your reaction time. Tallahassee has a huge drinking problem, and mostly it's young people who are out partying, and then get in their cars to drive home. No one ever thinks something like this can happen to them. Please talk to your kids, siblings etc. - til they get tired of listening to you! It just may prevent another tragedy like this.
  • by anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 05:01 AM
    Read the whole report. The other "sober" driver also says that she did NOT see the truck the whole time that she was approaching on Capital Circle and only saw it at the last second and barely stopped in time. So you think the girl deserved to die just because she was split second slower in recognizing the danger? That's harsh. If I throw a knife at someone and he is quick enough to jump out of the way...does that mean that I can throw the knife at a person with slower reaction times and have it be THEIR fault when I kill them?
  • by Anonymous on Feb 17, 2011 at 04:29 AM
    anon on Feb 16, 2011 at 10:55 PM, This has been tried. The other driver did see the truck, and was able to successfully come to a stop.
  • by Anonymous Location: Tallahassee on Feb 17, 2011 at 02:17 AM
    Just for the record Wilma, Rick Scott wasn't even in office yet when this accident happened.
  • by Jennifer Location: Tallahassee on Feb 16, 2011 at 08:56 PM
    I am heartbroken..... I loved Lauren she was the sweetest most caring person. I know she is in a better place & I hope at peace. To her mother Regina & her family, my prayers are with you!
  • by anon on Feb 16, 2011 at 07:55 PM
    That accident happened at night -- in a place most are not used to the traffic coming out of it yet -- NEW BUSINESS....and it was foggy. The truck was difficult to see stretched across ALL THE LANES. You recreate that time and weather condition at that time of night and see if YOU can see that darka** truck stretched across all the lanes that were supposed to be free of obstruction. There is a bit of a curve there too so not all can see equally from all positions.
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