Family of man killed on Springhill Road calling for changes to busy byway

Published: May. 12, 2021 at 6:58 PM EDT|Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 9:51 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Some call it the “Big Bend Scenic Byway,” and others know it as Springhill Road.

Since 2016, WCTV has reported eight fatal crashes along the stretch of road. The most recent one happened this April. The family of the 18-year-old killed in that crash is hoping to prevent what happened to their son from happening to anyone else.

Leon County Public Works Department told WCTV’s Sophia Hernandez that the road is considered a county road. They said that no traffic study has ever been conducted there. They believe the road to be safe and they said there is no need for changes.

But, there are others who feel differently.

It was on April 10, 2020, when Joey Dipascale lost his life near New Hope Church on Springhill Road. Joey’s older sister Lexi said they found out through a family friend.

“She knew he would go for drives on that road, so she looked into it called us immediately when she knew something was wrong,” described Lexi.

The 18-year-old was 12 days away from turning 19.

Joey’s mother Jen said he had aspirations to become a sports agent and loved all things sports. He had a smile that brightened a room, and touched the lives of so many, including his family, according to Jen.

“I thought it was just me,” Jen said. “But apparently it wasn’t just me. He had a radiant smile and was just a genuinely good person.”

Joey is just one of many killed along this winding way. The long stretch has no lights, no stop signs, only signs warning of curves and speed.

“I said I feel like I am driving like in a scary movie to my death,” expressed Jen. “I hated that road. And when I found out that was the road, I just kept thinking to myself how dark it was, and how it was just pitch black.”

What is considered to be Springhill Road by Leon County starts at Capital Circle to the Wakulla County line.

LCPWD said the stretch south of Capital Circle does not have any “stop conditions,” which would be anything to stop traffic on the roadway. They said this is the case due to traffic safety.

The county also told WCTV that there are 62 stop signs on roads and streets connected to Springhill Road.

According to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Springhill Road starts a little more north, at the intersection of Springhill and Lake Bradford, and ends farther south in Wakulla County, where Springhill Road turns into Bloxham Cutoff Road.

According to records obtained by FLHSMV, in 2018, there were 45 crashes on Springhill Road. In 2019, there were 39, and in 2020, even with COVID-19, there were 33 crashes.

Ralph Bishop has lived right on Springhill Road for over 50 years, and said the numbers are not surprising. “It is just dangerous to pull out on the road, and it’s just a miracle that there is not more wrecks here than there is,” said Bishop.

If you were to combine the more than 20 intersecting side roads and streets that are connected to Springhill Road, the numbers more than double.

2018 saw an additional 143 crashes, 2019 an extra 158 and 103 more in 2020.

To compare, in 2018 and 2019, Leon County saw more than 12,500 crashes. In 2020, the number was significantly lower due to COVID-19 at 8,658.

These records do not show if any of these crashes were fatal. In 2020, however, one of the crashes on Springhill Road was a hit and run incident.

Those like the Dipascales hope something is done, such as the installation of more lights, railings or even a police presence.

“You drive past those memorial signs all the time and you don’t think about what that family went through in that moment,” shared Lexi. “It’s really so sudden and so unexpected and its devastating. And it’s the most devastating thing anyone can go through, and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone else. Which is why we really want to fix the road.”

The family is hoping to keep Joey’s legacy alive and keep others safe. To do that, they have put in a request with the county to have the road surveyed.

The family has also created a foundation in Joey’s name called the Joey Dean Foundation. The foundation will not only be looking to make changes to Springhill Road, but also provide scholarships to younger athletes as Joey wanted to be a sports agent.

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