Family mourns 24-year-old crash victim

FHP: Alcohol suspected in fatal head-on collision

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Family members of a 24-year-old woman are deep in mourning after their loved one was killed in a crash early Sunday morning.

Crystal Sanford died in a head-on collision on Beach Boulevard in St. Nicholas about 3:45 a.m.

"Rescue people say she tried to fight, she tried. But I guess she couldn't hold on," said Toawana Bennett, Sanford's cousin. "She was a smart girl, just wanted more out of life. It's just hard. It's so hard."

Sanford was a mother of two, in school to be a nurse and working at a financial firm. Her boyfriend, 27-year-old Gery Simmons, is fighting for his life in the hospital.

State troopers said 34-year-old Joseph Farley (pictured below in St. Johns County 2011 DUI arrest) was behind the wheel of a pickup truck when the crash happened. Farley also remains hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.

St. Johns County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Joseph Farley from 2011 DUI arrest
St. Johns County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Joseph Farley from 2011 DUI arrest

Investigators say Sanford and Simmons were headed toward downtown on Beach while riding home from a family gathering, and Farley was headed toward the beach. For whatever reason, his truck crossed into their lanes and hit them head on, state troopers said.

"The situation with someone going into the wrong lane, head on, that fast, I mean anybody in their right mind knows that this person was not coherent," Sanford's cousin, Paula Reese, said.

The families of those involved are holding together, trying to comfort each other as troopers investigate. Blood tests will determine if alcohol was a factor, but according to the Florida Highway Patrol, troopers do suspect alcohol or drug impairment.

Troopers said other motorists witnessed erratic driving from the pickup truck shortly before the crash.

Channel 4 crime and safety analyst Ken Jefferson says the blood results could take awhile, but should help investigators find out what went wrong.

Gary Simmons
Gary Simmons

The family of Gary Simmons (pictured, left) has setup a fund for donations called "Team Josh Donations Fund."  To donate contact Wells Fargo and specify account number 5685494071. The money would go towards his personal and rehabilitating services. If you have any further questions, contact Amanda Brown at 904-713-3560.

Farley was arrested in 2011 in St. Johns County on a DUI charge and pleaded no contest. He had misdemeanor possession of marijuana charges dropped.