Mother calls road 'Devil’s Highway'
Kathryn Jeffers lost her daughter, fears more people will die on CR 214
Kayla Register died nearly four years ago, when her car hit a huge tree that had fallen across County Road 214 in St. Johns County during a storm. Register’s boyfriend Quentin Gilliard and Register’s best friend, were all killed.
For those who aren’t familiar with the area, the speed limit on 214 there is 55 miles per hour. It’s a two-lane road flanked by trees and homes. During the day, it’s easy to see anything that may be obstructing the roadway. At night, it’s very dark with only the light from headlights showing the way.
Kathryn Jeffers remembers the last conversation she had with her daughter Kayla, before the 19-year-old’s life was tragically cut short by a downed tree.
“She told me she loved me and that she was on her way home,” said Jeffers. “My last words to her was be careful and I’m waiting up for you.”
Kayla never made it home. She was unable to avoid running into the oak tree. Kayla, her boyfriend and her best friend weren’t discovered until two more cars hit the same tree. That was May 21, 2009.
“If I had the choice, I would change the name to ‘Devil’s Highway’ because it took so many people’s lives,” said Jeffers.
She says since that crash, no one has done anything about the other trees that still line the road.
Last month, a tree fell in nearly the same exact spot blocking the roadway, which is a popular road used by locals to get to St. Augustine. Thankfully, no one was killed. Jeffers says this latest incident adds insult to injury.
“It was like a back flash of everything happening,” Jeffers explained. “I sit and wonder everyday how it happened? Why did it happen? But I get no answers.”
Channel 4 started investigating to see the condition of trees along that stretch of road. We did find several that appear dead or dying and big enough that if they did fall, they would land on CR 214. And if one of those trees were to fall again at night, it’s so dark; it would be hard for any driver to stop in time.
Nathalie Yeoman, Kayla’s step grandmother says she’s afraid every time she drives under the huge trees.
“The bigger the tree, the more I’m worried,” said Yeoman.
Channel 4 walked with Yeoman along CR 214 and she showed us trees that concern her, specifically two oak trees that hang over the road near where it intersects with Holmes Boulevard, about three miles from where her granddaughter died. Some were surprising to us that they are still staying up. The roots that would anchor some of the trees have now been cut to create drainage along the road. All the weight of the limbs is hanging over drivers.
“I want them to do something about them trees,” said Jeffers. “I want them down and I’m going to fight until they come down. I don’t want them to take someone else’s child.”
WATCH TONIGHT AT 10pm on Channel 4:
Channel 4 asked a certified arborist to look at the oak trees and the other trees that line CR 214 where Kayla and her friends were killed. What he discovered and what a St. Johns County Commissioner is telling us about driver safety along the road. Tonight on The 10 O’clock News, only on Channel 4.
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