A teenager died Wednesday morning after an SUV he was driving apparently went off the embankment of a small San Pablo Road bridge on private property.
The St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office later identified the driver as 14-year-old Cole Alexander Kelley of St. Johns County.
The SUV ended up submerged under the bridge, which spans a narrow tributary of the Intracoastal Waterway.
A person on the property who witnessed the crash called 911 just before 8 a.m., St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Chuck Mulligan said.
Rescuers could be seen working to pull the teen from the vehicle Wednesday morning, but Kelley did not survive what Mulligan described as a “tragic traffic crash.”
The Isuzu Trooper he was driving was registered locally, Mulligan said, but it’s unclear if he owned the vehicle.
Mulligan said the teen was driving off the private Dee-Dot Ranch property toward a San Pablo Road South gate and when he came to a slight curve in the road, he went off the embankment of the bridge.
Aerials from Sky4 showed rescuers were trying to get to the SUV, which was near the pilings of the small bridge.
First responders attached a cable to the SUV from a fire engine and slowly lifted it to the surface as rescuers worked to get inside.
The vehicle had been in the water for over an hour at least when Kelley was pulled from the car and lifted onto the land. Mulligan said Kelley was the only person in the vehicle.
The Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department was called in to assist in the rescue effort, along with dive crews from both counties.
San Pablo Road South becomes a private drive on the property, which Mulligan said houses an active agricultural operation.
The bridge appeared to have a very low railing, but authorities said because it’s on private property, it does not have to follow Department of Transportation standards.
The Dee-Dot Ranch is owned by the Davis family, a prominent Jacksonville family that used to own the Winn-Dixie grocery stores. The Davis family did not respond to a request for comment.