ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A father of two was killed in a two-vehicle crash Monday evening on U.S. 1 in St. Johns County.
Loved ones remember Desmond Oesterreicher, 57, as a loving father and friend who spent his whole life in St. Augustine.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, a Ford Ranger pickup truck was heading south on U.S. 1 about 6:40 p.m. Monday when it turned left onto Stokes Landing Road, crossing into the path of a Lincoln MKX SUV traveling north, and collided with the Lincoln.
The driver of the Ford, Oesterreicher, died at the scene, according to the FHP. Grace King, the 54-year-old driver of the Lincoln, was taken to Baptist South in Jacksonville with serious injuries, troopers said.
Bob Bednar was working at Cornwell’s Market, located at the northeast corner of the intersection, at the time of the crash. The impact of the two-vehicle collision was so strong it hit Bednar's car, which was parked a good distance from the intersection. Bednar said investigators towed away his car as evidence in the investigation.
"The whole side of it, the windshield was all blown in. The whole side of the car from the back all the way to the front was damaged because I guess they went up against it," he said.
The northbound lanes of U.S. 1 north of International Golf Parkway remained closed for more than three hours while the accident was investigated and cleared.
Friends told News4Jax on Tuesday that Oesterreicher was a country man who didn't know a stranger, made people smile and loved his family.
"If you were having a bad day or whatever, he would always have some kind of humor to brighten you up," said Valerie Keller, who lived next door to Oesterreicher. "That's something we're going to miss."
Keller said she is heartbroken that she will never get to hug him again.
"We’ve actually known him, I’d say, seven years or better and he’s been a wonderful neighbor, kind of like family to us, so we’re all saddened by the news," she said.
Oesterreicher leaves behind two children, including a boy younger than 10 and a teenager.
According to the neighbor, Oesterreicher's mother was injured in a crash at the same intersection several years ago. Keller said it's dangerous. The Florida Department of Transportation told News4Jax that currently, there is not a traffic study at the intersection, but that as with all fatal crashes on state roads, it will review the intersection after the investigation is complete.