JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man who was directly behind one of the vehicles that was involved in a deadly crash on the Main Street Bridge shared his account with News4Jax on Tuesday.
“We’re doing this down the hill and this car is coming up this way. Whatever happened here, she did an immediate 90-degree turn and completely head-on, hit the front left side of his vehicle,” said Jeffery Totty.
The two people who died in that crash have been identified as Jackeline Penalver, 34, and Robert Lease, 77.
Totty says he could have been the one killed in that crash.
Totty says he was traveling south along the bridge and was just about to pass an SUV that was in front of him. Within seconds, another car in the opposite direction came crashing into that SUV, killing the driver.
Totty spent several years as an attorney for auto insurance companies. Part of his job was to interview auto crash victims and witnesses. But now he finds himself a witness to a horrific crash that killed two people.
“Three is no picture of an accident or an incident. There are no conversations with a witness or a victim that prepares you for actually seeing it in real life,” Totty said.
He says the car driven by Penalver crossed into oncoming traffic and hit an SUV that was directly in front of him.
“Obviously I broke as hard as I could. Everything that was on the front seat was now on the floor,” he said.
Tottys says he got out his car and walked over to the crash to see if the two drivers were okay but quickly realized the situation was grim.
Lease died at the scene and Penalver was taken to the hospital where she later died from her injuries. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 18 calls for service on this bridge involving crashes. Many of those involved injures.
Totty says as a result of what he witnessed and his prior knowledge of crashes on this bridge, he and his family will now only use the Acosta Bridge because he feels it’s much safer and wider.