Man accidentally drowns in Fleming Island ditch

Victim identified as 22-year-old Abel Villalobos

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. – The body of a 22-year-old man was found early Saturday morning in a flooded ditch along Lakeshore Drive North in Fleming Island, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators found the body of Abel Villalobos, 22, of Orange Park at approximately 4 a.m. They said the man left a friend's house nearby sometime after 2 a.m. Saturday morning on a golf cart. At some point the golf cart was driven into the ditch and became stuck. The man was able to call friends for assistance. They later discovered him in the ditch near the golf cart, according to Clay County deputies.

Currently, police believe it to be an accidental drowning but the Clay County Sherriff's Office has assigned a homicide investigator to the incident, which is their standard policy.

People who live in the area believe the lack of lighting could have prevented the tragedy.

"I witnessed the whole thing this morning from the moment I got up. And it's very heartbreaking," said Kimberly Spach. 

"You know, this hits close to home and I mean, I got to witness the family mourning over this, this morning. It's something that I feel could have been avoided." 

Spach said that for the last year, she's been asking the county to install more street lamps to the roadway, but has gotten nowhere. 

She says the light her family installed over their home is the only one around for several blocks. She wonders if the lack of lighting may have played a role in the accident.

"Whether or not, it would have changed the outcome, I'm not sure."
"But I told them a tragedy would happen. It's just a matter of time."

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