Car goes into retention pond, man OK

59-year-old driver made it out safely

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office dive team and Florida Highway Patrol crews pulled a car from a pond early Friday morning on Interstate 295 at Philips Highway.

Police said a call came in about a car driving into the pond around 1:30 a.m.

James Conti, 59, the driver of the two-door black BMW, made it out safely. He had his seat belt on and was able to get out before his car sank. He was the only one inside and was not hurt.

The driver told police he was driving south on I-295, exiting at Philips Highway, when he failed to negotiate the curve in the off ramp, causing him to slide down the embankment (as pictured in an FHP diagram below). Troopers said eh was going 10 mph over the 30 mph speed limit.

Police said he stayed in the grass for a while because it was wet and the momentum prevented him from stopping. He then slid into the north side of the pond.

In May, another driver went into the same retention pond. David Brown, 55, was killed when his Kia Sorento left the road and went into the water.

The Florida Highway Patrol believed Brown may have fallen asleep because there was no evasive action to prevent going into the pond.

The pond is estimated to be 15 to 20 feet deep.

On Friday morning, Conti left the scene in a taxi shortly after police arrived.

Police do not believe alcohol was a factor in the accident.

The Florida Department of Transportation said it is looking into the interchange again. A spokeswoman said officials looked at it when the fatality occurred last month. She said during that time, they discovered it is designed correctly and there's the proper amount of distance between the travel lane and the pond.

The spokeswoman said officials are looking into the possibility of guardrails, delineators, which are white posts with reflectors, and they're also looking into the possibility of reducing the speed limit there.

She said FDOT works with FHP and JSO, and if law enforcement thinks there's a trend, they will let them know to see if something needs to be changed. The spokeswoman said officials will be pulling reports, talking to FHP, and looking into data from the last two to three years.

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