Leon County aims to improve boat ramp safety after deadly crash

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By: Symone Davis
May 25, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Changes are coming to Leon County’s boat ramps after a deadly accident just 10 days ago. A car drove off of Coe’s Landing Road and into Lake Talquin, killing three people. Now Leon County leaders are making changes to boat ramps in an effort to prevent future crashes.

Right now, roads near boat landings in Leon County aren’t clearly marked. That’s one of the reasons some say a car carrying four people drove off of a boat ramp and into Lake Talquin. Only one person survived the crash.

County Commissioner Bill Proctor said, "Very unfortunate, where we had 3 people lose their lives in a car that went down Lake Talquin.”

On Tuesday, county leaders, including Commissioner Proctor, voted to evaluate all 25 of the county’s boat landings and campgrounds. Based off of those results, the county will revamp 19 of the 25 boat landings and campground facilities.

The recommended changes will include a stop sign, a ‘Stop Ahead’ sign to support the stop sign, an informational sign with the name of the boat landing or campground, a 'Dead End' sign, speed bumps, lights and fencing.

Some residents are all for it.

Resident Natasha Winfrey said, "To help warn motorist that bodies of water are coming is always a great idea. Especially with boat ramps if they're unfamiliar with the area."

Others think the County should focus on safer driving.

Resident Christine Hansen said, "There's a lot of high speed driving. There's a lot of red light running. I think that would have greater impact than more signage.”

However Commissioner Proctor says the overall goal is to never have the community face another tragedy like this one.

County Administrator Vincent Long says the project will cost about $100,000. That money will come from the County’s existing operations budget. County officials say all the upgrades should be completed by the end of the summer.

By: Lanetra Bennett
May 17, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- New concerns are being raised about area boat ramps after a car plunged into a local lake, killing three people.

The crash happened early Sunday morning at Coe Landing at Lake Talquin in Leon County. Witnesses say the car sped right past the ramp and into the lake.

Area fisherman Morgan Lisenby said, "If you look at a lot of these landings down here, a lot of them go straight to the lake, they go straight down to the lake. They don't turn. Like this one does, when you come in, you come right straight and go right off to the end into the landing."

Many say that's what make boat landings dangerous.

After the triple fatal car crash Sunday morning into Lake Talquin, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor pointed out there is no signage of a lake or anything to alert a driver there's water ahead.

There is a "Dead End" sign. "It doesn't say anything about water, nothing like that. It's just--I feel like it's pointless. A dead end can mean anything. You can't really tell there's something out here if you're not from here. Because there's a whole bunch of houses, you wouldn't think there's a big lake back here." Said, area fisherman Josh Barakat.

There's a dead end sign at the beginning of Mitchell Landing Road, with speed limit signs along the way. However, the road also leads straight to the lake.

There are 23 public boat landings listed under Leon County. Commissioner Proctor is asking the county for an immediate review of the safety precaution measures all of the landings.

Barakat said, "If they put a couple of speed bumps out here, it couldn't hurt anybody. When it's dark you can't see anything. You just see woods and trees."

Lisenby said, "Maybe even some of those reflector signs, you know warning kind of signs that you see on some of these sharp turns or something. Just to let people know hey, you're about to be in the water if you don't stop."

Commissioner Proctor says the county commission recently voted to spend $125,000 a year over the next five years to enhance public landings.

He's requesting for an evaluation report by the next board meeting.

By: Lanetra Bennett
May 16, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Bobby Darnell says he heard the catfish would be biting between midnight and 1 a.m. Sunday.

But, it wasn't fish he ended up pulling out of the water.

Darnell says he saw a car drive into Lake Talquin. It happened at the Coe Landing Boat Ramp on Coe Landing Road in Leon County.

Darnell said, "One girl jumped out of the window. Then a guy and a girl got on the hood of the car. They were hollering they couldn't swim."

Darnell says his 15-year-old grandson jumped in the water. "He went out there to try to save one of them. They tried to pull him under, so he had to kick himself away from him so they didn't drown him."

Darnell says he grabbed a rope from his truck and threw it in the water to a woman he'd seen escape from the passenger side window. "She had just enough strength, I guess, to barely hold on to get there because she let go three times before I could get her in. I pulled her up on the boat landing." He said.

Darnell did CPR on the woman. Authorities say she's 26-year-old Takara Holmes.

They say the other three that were in the car died. LCSO says they were 29-year-old Larry Hall, 29-year-old Pierce Wood Jr., and 26-year-old M'Brese Petty.

Darnell's co-worker, Keith Hampton, said, "I just feel real bad for the family. I'm glad my buddy was there to help whoever he could get out of the situation. I'm glad he was around when it happened."

Authorities say the driver of the car accidentally drove into the lake because they were unfamiliar with the area.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor is asking an immediate review of the safety precaution measures around the county maintained public boat landing. He says there's no signage at Coe Landing to warn drivers that water is ahead. He wants all landings reviewed.

Proctor's Letter to the Board of County Commissioners

In response to the drownings at Coe Landing, I am asking an immediate review of the safety precaution measures around the county maintained public boat landing. Please evaluate all of the landings.

As you know, the county commission voted recently to spend $125,000 per year over the next five years so enhance our public landings. As I have reviewed the Coe landing site, I can personally say that there is no signage of a lake or anything to alert a driver that there is water ahead. There are no reflectors and only two overhead lights next to the water. There are no speed bumps and nothing that tells a driver to slow down.

I am Asking that this situation be addressed immediately and that a plan of action be put in place.

Please may the Commission receive a report by the next Board meeting.

By: WCTV Eyewitness News
May 16, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Authorities have released the identities of the three people who were killed when a vehicle crashed into Lake Talquin early Sunday morning.

The Leon County Sheriff's Office says 29-year-old Larry Hall, 29-year-old Pierce Deon Wood Jr. and 26-year-old M'Brese Petty were killed in the crash.

26-year-old Takara Holmes was also a passenger in the vehicle but was rescued by witnesses on the scene.

According to LCSO, the vehicle was driven into the lake at the boat ramp off of Coe Landing Road. Witnesses at the scene told authorities that the car was speeding

Deputies have ruled the crash an accident, saying that the driver was not familiar with the area.

By: LCSO, WCTV Eyewitness News
May 15, 2016

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Three people are dead after a vehicle crashed into Lake Talquin early Sunday morning.

Deputies say the accident occurred around 1:15 a.m. Witnesses told authorities that the car was speeding and drove down the Coe Landing boat ramp before crashing into the lake.

Once the car was in the lake, witnesses say they saw the occupants get out the car as it began to sink.

Deputies say there were a total of four people in the car.

Witnesses were able to pull one person to safety and give mouth to mouth resuscitation.

Authorities were in vessels and on the docks with guns to protect the scuba diving search team in the alligator-infested waters.

After a search and rescue of the lake, deputies found the bodies of three other occupants.

Their identities have not yet been released. We'll continue to keep you updated.

LCSO has ruled the crash an accident, saying that the driver was not familiar with the area.

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