A 16-year-old girl who was airlifted to a hospital after she was thrown from a golf cart and hit her head was recovering at home Monday and is expected to be OK.
The driver of the golf cart, a boy who turned 17 years old Monday, was also injured when the cart hit an SUV head-on in the driveway of a business on Capital Green Drive in Nocatee, the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office said. The crash was reported just after 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
Deputies said the girl was airlifted because of a head injury, but it was later learned she had minor injuries. She had only an adhesive bandage on her head Monday when News4Jax spoke with her.
The golf cart driver, who was partially ejected from the cart in the crash, was cited for careless driving, according to a crash report.
Deputies said the driver of the SUV stopped at an intersection as the golf cart approached, and before the SUV began moving again, the golf cart "suddenly swerved" and hit the SUV head-on in front of a restaurant.
Pictures show the damage appears to be minimal, although the golf cart's windshield was left on the ground and the SUV sustained some scratches.
The SUV driver, Candace Montgomery, told News4Jax that, looking back, it feels as if the crash happened in slow motion, but she knows it happened quickly.
She said she was leaving the plaza after grocery shopping when the cart slammed into her SUV.
“I remember getting out of the car and turning my car off and thinking, 'Please let her be OK. Please let her be OK,'” Montgomery said of the teen who was thrown from the cart. "This could have been so much more tragic, and they get to be home with their family and friends at the holidays."
Golf carts common
Joanna Brown, who lives nearby, said that Nocatee is known for being a golf cart community.
”I mean, it's kind of what Nocatee is known for. We're very family-oriented. We just pop the kids on there, we go to the grocery store or the restaurants, the pool, so the kids like it. It's enjoyable," Brown said.
Brown said, because of the wide sidewalks and clear signage, she's never felt unsafe traveling among vehicles.
"It's just like being behind a car," she said. "You know you have to watch for other vehicles. You watch for people and there's stop signs. You know when you put your blinker on and make sure your lights are on when it's dark."
3rd accident this year
This is the third accident in 2019 involving teenagers and golf carts in St. Johns County.
In January, 16-year-old Olivia Love was seriously injured when she fell from a golf cart and hit her head on the driveway of a home off State Road 16. In July, a 14-year-old was injured after hitting his head when another rider set off a firework aboard his golf cart.
Since those accidents, the sheriff's office said it planned to hold golf cart safety classes.
There are also several rules pertaining to golf carts. Some main rules include:
- Golf carts can only be operated on designated roads that have a speed limit not greater than 25 mph.
- Golf carts can only be operated by people 14 years and older.
- If the golf cart is to be driven on designated roads during darkness, it must be equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals and a windshield.
The full St. Johns County golf cart reference guide can be found here.