JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A woman who stopped to help the driver of a disabled vehicle on the Buckman Bridge was killed Sunday night, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
A Honda and Toyota were parked on the shoulder with emergency flashers activated. The Honda was disabled and the driver of the Toyota stopped to help.
Paul Fort, 41, was driving a Ford F-150 truck northbound on the Buckman Bridge shortly after 6:00 p.m., troopers reported.
Fort and the Honda driver sustained minor injuries but refused medical treatment and transport.
Fort traveled onto the shoulder and hit the rear of the Toyota, according to the FHP report. The driver of the Toyota, 21-year-old Lyanne Vera, was transported to Orange Park Medical Center and pronounced dead.
"She always tried to help people, poor people, animals; she was an angel," said Ana Vera as she remembers her daughter Lyanne.
"My understanding is she came to help a friend and among her group of friends she was noted for doing that," said Vera's father, Lawrence. "Vera was just being a Good Samaritan on the Buckman Bridge helping out a stranded friend in the emergency lane when a driver pulled into the lane and didn't slow down."
Devastated by Vera's loss, her family said they will wait on the Florida Highway patrol to determine if the crash that took Lyanne's life was in fact criminal negligence or just an accident.
Sgt. Dylan Bryan points out there are often crashes that happen on the busy bridge that involve motorists stuck in the emergency lane, but he says the lanes are just as wide as any other bridge in the state of Florida.
"The emergency stopping areas on the left and right shoulders are normal lane width, which can be anywhere from 10 - 12 feet in length," said Sgt. Bryan.
Vera's family said they don't blame the bridge for her death, they just hope to get answers soon.
"It ended tragically, but she was still lending a hand," said Vera's brother, Jamie. "All her friends remember her for that and they could always count on her."
The Buckman Bridge was blocked for approximately 3.5 hours Sunday night. Charges are pending, according to FHP.