Area suffers year's first road deaths

Published: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 4, 2003 at 3:20 a.m.
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Priscilla Boykin breaks down and is led away by family from the scene of a fatal accident that killed her cousin in Newberry on Friday.

DOUG FINGER/The Gainesville Sun
Two men became the first area traffic fatalities of the new year following a head-on collision Friday afternoon on Williston Road. A third man died a couple hours later in a crash in Newberry.
Rescue personnel found the two vehicles in the first crash - a 1993 Ford Explorer sport utility vehicle and a 1996 Ford pickup truck - on their sides along the road, less than a mile north of the intersection with Wacahoota Road.
Troopers reported the vehicles hit head-on as one driver tried to pass northbound traffic on the two-lane road.
"There's no engine compartment left," Alachua County Fire Rescue spokesman Justin Lagotic said, describing the two vehicles wrecked in the crash.
Michael A. Herbst, 40, of Morriston was heading north and was trying to pass traffic when he hit Ryan L. Rimmer, 20, of Gainesville in the southbound lane, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Rimmer tried to avoid the crash but wasn't able to, according to the FHP.
Both Rimmer and Herbst died at the scene.
Neither vehicle was carrying passengers, and no one else was injured in the accident, which occurred at about 1 p.m.
About two hours later on a sunny country road, an Archer man lost his life when his car hit a group of trees in Newberry.
Leondre Marquis Boykin, 24, was driving a 1995 Pontiac north on U.S. 27 near SW 30th Avenue in Newberry at 3:15 p.m. when he tried to pass another car in a no-passing zone, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Boykin lost control of his car, which traveled onto the east shoulder of the road and hit a group of trees with the left side driver's door, according to the FHP.
Members of Boykin's family gathered at the crash site Friday afternoon mourning their loss.
Boykin had no passengers, and no one else was injured in the crash.
Trooper Mike Caglecq said the Williston Road wreck became the first with fatalities in 2003 for the 11-county area covered by the Florida Highway Patrol's Troop B. The area includes Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Levy, Suwannee, and Union counties.
Cagle said the truck's driver was headed north along Williston Road when he tried to pass other northbound vehicles by moving into the southbound lane and the path of an oncoming SUV.
"You can see where the driver of the SUV tried to take evasive action," Cagle said. But instead, both vehicles smashed into each other in the southbound lane.
Because of the extensive damage, rescuers fought to remove both men from their vehicles. Lagotic estimated it took about 20 minutes to free them.
The driver of the SUV, Rimmer, who was wearing his seat belt, was dead when rescuers arrived, Lagotic said.
Herbst apparently went into cardiac arrest and later was pronounced dead, Lagotic said.
Troopers continue to investigate the crash, Cagle said late Friday.
Lagotic noted that the accident occurred on a day when there should have been no distractions for drivers, such as stormy weather conditions. Sometimes, however, he said that can be the most dangerous situation for motorists.
"There's no distractions to remind you to keep your guard up. You're letting your guard down to a point," he said.
Lise Fisher can be reached at 374-5092 or at fisherl@ Sun staff writer Kathy Ciotola contributed to this report.

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