Loved ones remember Army veteran hit, killed by police cruiser

Many questions raised after Derrick Woolbright, 57, dies in crash

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Less than 24 hours after a bicyclist was fatally struck by a police cruiser, loved ones held a vigil Tuesday evening to remember the Army veteran. 

Derrick Woolbright, 57, died in the crash, which happened just before 8 p.m. Monday on Moncrief Road at Sycamore Street. 

RELATED: Bicyclist fatally struck by police cruiser on Moncrief Road, JSO says

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, an officer was responding to a low-priority call when he tried to avoid the bicyclist, but hit him after he changed lanes multiple times. 

Woolbright's family members and friends returned to the site of the crash for Tuesday night's vigil. As candles burned, they played old videos, including one in which Woolbright is seen being the life of the party -- the side his older brother, Mark Woolbright, said he'll miss the most. 

"I just miss him because we were close. And right now, he seems like he's not gone but I know soon I can expect it. But for now, it seems like he's still here," Mark Woolbright said.

Mark Woolbright said he and his family are not only very upset, but they're questioning JSO.

"They haven't said anything to show remorse. So that was just another person that got hit by a police car," Mark Woolbright said. "(But to me), he was my brother, so it means a whole lot."

At the vigil, prayers and songs of worship developed into chants demanding justice.

"Naturally, we want justice. You would want the same thing if that was your loved one laying there," said family friend Julia Saline. "It hurts. We all loved him. He loved everybody."

Earlier in the day, News4Jax on Tuesday spoke with some of Woolbright's friends, who called him by his nickname, "Durk."

"We walked over there and looked and he was laying in the road behind a car," said friend Terrance Littles. 

Friends said he worked at a corner store not far from where the crash happened. They described him as hardworking and said they will miss his infectious laugh. 

"He would keep you laughing all day. Now, if you come up here, you're going to laugh because he's going to tell jokes, sing songs all day and there's not a song you name he can't sing. And he's a good singer," Littles said.

Littles said he's having a hard time holding up after his friend's death.

"We're from the same neighborhood. We were raised up together. It's, kind of, tear-dropping," he said.

Woolbright's friends have also asked why the light that used to be at that Northwest Jacksonville intersection is no longer there. 

His friend, Ronald Norris, said there used to be a caution light at the intersection until about a year and a half ago when a crash took it down, and it never got replaced.

After News4Jax called the Florida Department of Transportation, engineers went out to take photos of the spot where the light once stood in hopes of learning why the light was never replaced.

Norris said he hopes the road can be made safer so he doesn't have to lose another friend.

"Since that light has been taken down, and before that light was up, we had about four people get hit by bicycles right here. We have a whole bunch of kids that come through," Norris said. "I feel like if we had a light here and a light right down the street, it would help out a lot, especially with the kids, and this is one of the main crossings that they go to school at."

FDOT officials told News4Jax that they would provide an update on the light as soon as they have one. 

People who live and work in the area said  they believe the officer was speeding, but JSO Assistant Chief Scott Dingee said the officer was driving under normal traffic conditions. Woolbright's family also questions the time of the crash, saying several witnesses have come forward to say that the crash happened much earlier than 8 p.m.

The Sheriff's Office continues to investigate. 

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Woolbright's family with funeral expenses.