JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A 26-year-old man from St. Augustine was killed in a wrong-way crash last week on I-295 at Baymeadows Road that blocked all lanes for about five hours.
Troopers said Orlando Beato, 42, was driving an SUV northbound in the southbound lane around 3:30 a.m. on Friday when he hit a van head-on.
Beato was taken to the hospital with serious injuries and the driver of the van, Corbin Wagner, died at the scene, according to FHP.
Troopers later arrested Beato, a foreign national from the Dominican Republic who had no American driver’s license or address. His arrest report says his blood-alcohol level was .27, that’s three times the legal limit. He’s now been accused of DUI manslaughter and remains in the hospital on an absentee booking and immigration hold.
He’s being held on a $125,000 bond, records show.
FHP sent a statement about being notified about a different wrong-way driver Friday morning.
“In regards to the wrong way fatality this morning at 295 & Baymeadows Road, we did not get any calls or information to that call. However, ironically, we did receive a wrong-way driver advisory of a gray Subaru SUV traveling in the wrong direction at 95 and Baymeadows about an hour and a half prior to the fatal crash.”
News4JAX pulled records from FHP showing 104 wrong-way crashes in Northeast Florida since 2019, and 28 of those collisions were deadly.
Troopers say wrong-way and drunk driving crashes increase during the holidays when the sun sets earlier and people are leaving holiday parties making the dangers of driving at night higher.
“So be observant. Drive defensively. Pay attention to what’s happening around here. That way you can take that defensive action to avoid them,” FHP Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan said.
And drive right at night.
Most nighttime highway wrong-way collisions happen in the left lane because wrong way drivers think they’re on a two-way road so you’re more likely to avoid a crash if you drive in the right lane.
FHP said it is increasing patrols with extra eyes on the road during the holiday but troopers can’t be everywhere. So if you see a suspected drunk driver, call 911 or *FHP right away.