Green Cove Springs couple fighting for their lives after head-on crash

Larry Tode and his wife, Connie, remain in ICU at Orange Park Medical Center

By Erik Avanier - Reporter

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - A Green Cove Springs couple are fighting for their lives at a hospital after troopers said their pickup truck was hit head-on by another pickup truck last week in Fleming Island. 

As of Tuesday, according to the family, 65-year-old Larry Tode and his wife, 66-year-old Connie Tode, remained in the intensive care unit at Orange Park Medical Center after the Florida Highway Patrol said they were critically injured in the crash that happened Wednesday night on U.S. 17 near Town Center Boulevard.

Editor's note: The video above contains graphic images and the story below contains details of the couple's injuries that some may find disturbing.

Family photo of Connie and Larry Tode

Family members said Tuesday that Larry Tode is in a trauma-induced coma, with bone fractures throughout his entire body. His grandson, Preston Mishikaiwa, said the injuries are life-threatening. 

“He’s got multiple fractures in his leg that are open, so the bones are actually poking out. His lungs also collapsed, so he’s also on a ventilator," Mishikaiwa said.

The couple's daughter, Melissa Holman, recalled the one moment on Father’s Day when her father opened an eye. 

“He opened it just briefly, one eye, and I said, 'I’m not a dad, but that’s the best Father’s Day gift I ever got,'" she said.

Connie Tode is no longer in a coma, according to family, but she is also suffering from life-threatening injuries. 

“She has multiple facial fractures, particularly one by the eye socket. She also has two collapsed lungs," Mishikaiwa said.

head-on collision damage

According to the Highway Patrol report, a GMC Sierra pickup truck was going northbound on U.S. 17 just before 9:30 p.m. Wednesday when the driver -- David Pulliam, 49, of Jacksonville -- lost control and crossed into the southbound lanes, colliding head-on with a Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck.

The Highway Patrol said the Chevrolet pickup spun out, stopping just before the tree line. Troopers said the driver, Larry Tode, and the passenger, Connie Tode, were taken to OPMC with critical injuries.

Troopers said the GMC pickup continued to go into the tree line before it stopped. Pulliam, who troopers said was not wearing a seat belt, was taken to OPMC with serious injuries, the Highway Patrol said.

Holman said Pulliam was admitted to the ICU next to her parents.

“That was very hard because, as we left my mom’s room, we had to look at him every time," she said. “It’s infuriating to see that, not only he was there, but that he’s progressed to a better spot.”

Because of his progression, News4Jax was told Pulliam is now recovering on a different floor of the hospital.

Based on the nature of the crash and evidence found at the scene, troopers believe Pulliam might have been under the influence, FHP Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan told News4Jax on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, medical bills are adding up as the Todes remain in the ICU, and their daughter is asking for the public’s help. She has set up a Facebook fundraiser for anyone wishing to help.

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