JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A driver who attempted to crash through the Birmingham Gate at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Thursday morning died after gate sentries deployed the protective barrier that stopped the vehicle from entering the base, Navy officials said.
News4JAX has since learned the driver, who was in a dark blue Nissan Altima, was fleeing from the scene of a hit-and-run crash on Roosevelt Boulevard at Timuquana Road, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
FHP Master Sgt. Dylan Bryan said just after 6 a.m., the man in the Altima hit another car at Roosevelt Boulevard at Timuquana Road and then sped away, driving 2.8 miles south before turning down Birmingham Avenue to the Birmingham Gate, which is the southernmost entrance to NAS Jacksonville off U.S. 17. The main entrance is the Yorktown Gate.
The other driver involved in the hit-and-run was not injured, FHP said.
According to a release from the Navy, the driver of the Altima had no known military affiliation. FHP said they believe the man is local to Jacksonville.
Bryan said investigators believe the man didn’t realize where he was and was just trying to get away from the hit-and-run scene. No one was chasing him. They do not believe the driver had malicious intent toward anyone at the base or that it was an act of terrorism.
“At this time, we do not think it was any type of intentional act as far as an intentional breach of a U.S. government facility, meaning any type of domestic terrorism or anything like that. None of that is suspected at this time,” Bryan said.
Bryan said when the driver of the Altima tried to run the gate, he ended up hitting two other vehicles. Bryan said the drivers in those cars were not injured.
Bryan said the man who tried to ram the gate died at the scene and at this point in the investigation, it appears the armed guards did not fire their weapons. Investigators are working to learn the man’s cause of death.
The incident caused a backup on U.S. 17 all the way to the Buckman Bridge. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was called in to assist with traffic.
Investigators asked anyone who witnessed the incident at the gate to contact NCIS at 808-478-8353.
The Birmingham Gate will reopen Friday.
At 6:30 am, a driver attempted to run the Birmingham Gate at NAS Jax, sentries deployed the protective barrier which stopped the vehicle. The driver is deceased and has no known military affiliation. Investigators are on the scene. Witnesses need to call NCIS at (808) 478-8353.— NAS Jacksonville (@NASJax_) September 15, 2022