Woman accused of driving drunk, high in crash that killed father of 2

Troopers say woman was speeding without headlights in fatal February crash

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – A 54-year-old woman was driving impaired and speeding without her headlights on when she crashed her SUV into a pickup truck in February, killing a father of two, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

Grace Ann King has been charged with DUI manslaughter, vehicular homicide, DUI property damage and driving without headlights.

The crash was reported Feb. 4 on U.S. 1 in St. Johns County.

According to the FHP report, Desmond Oesterreicher's Ford Ranger pickup truck was heading south on U.S. 1 about 6:40 p.m. that day when it turned left onto Stokes Landing Road near Cornwell's Market.

The sunset that day was at 6:06 p.m.

Troopers said King was speeding northbound on U.S. 1, going 89 mph in a 60 mph zone in her Lincoln MKX SUV without her headlights on when the pickup turned across her path.

According to the FHP report, toxicology results showed King was "under the influence of both alcohol and controlled substances at the time of the crash."

Oesterreicher, 57, died at the scene. King was seriously injured in the crash.

"I got here about 15 minutes after the accident and he was lying in a puddle of blood. It was really hard to see and go through," said Vinton Solana, Oesterreicher's brother. "(It's been) pretty hard. I mean, our parents are gone and grandparents have been gone for a while. My mom actually got a really bad accident in the same spot five or six years ago, so it’s a really bad spot."

Bob Bednar was working at Cornwell’s Market the night of the crash and said he knew Oesterreicher from seeing him at the store almost daily.

"I'm grateful," Bednar said. "I didn’t think it was going to take this long, but the system works. However, it works. I can honestly say that I am glad that they got her."

News4Jax found several previous citations for King in St. Johns County, including speeding six times and twice driving with a suspended or revoked license. She was also cited twice for speeding in Duval County.

King was also charged with DUI in late May after an incident on Town Center Parkway in Jacksonville in which she admitted to drinking and taking Xanax before driving, according to police. That was nearly four months after the fatal crash with Oesterreicher.

"That’s just terrible," Solana said. "It’s just unreal. She’s got a problem. I would say, you know, she has a problem."

"I don’t know how she was allowed to drive after that night," Bednar said.

Facebook photo of Desmond Oesterreicher
Facebook photo of Desmond Oesterreicher

Oesterreicher was remembered by friends and family as a loving father and friend who spent his whole life in St. Augustine.

Friends told News4Jax that Oesterreicher was a  country man who didn't know a stranger, made people smile and loved his family. 

Oesterreicher left behind two children, a teenager and a 9-year-old. 

His family wants justice.

“Now, finally, something is happening," Solana said. "Hopefully, she goes to jail for a pretty good long time."

About the Authors: