Three traffic accidents in the last week in the county took the lives of two people, seriously injured two others, and killed a bear.
On Monday, at about 6:05 p.m., a sedan was traveling east on US 98 approximately two miles west of Jule Road, which is just west of the Apalachicola wastewater department site, according to a report by the Florida Highway Patrol.
The report said that the vehicle exited the roadway and continued in a southeastern direction until the driver’s side traveled into a creek, and then collided with a tree on the south shoulder of US 98.
After the collision, the vehicle ignited and was fully engulfed when first responders arrived on the scene.
“The driver and front passenger were pronounced deceased on scene,” read the report, which was received just before press time Tuesday. “At this time the deceased have not yet been identified.”
The Florida Highway Patrol was assisted by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Emergency Medical Services, and the Apalachicola Volunteer Fire Department.
At about 9:11 a.m. Monday in Carrabelle, a bicyclist was traveling eastbound on US 98, near Frank McKamey Way.
At the same time. an RV, driven by a 79-year-old Tallahassee man, with an 82-year-old female passenger, also from Tallahassee, was traveling eastbound directly behind the bicyclist. The report said the RV moved to the center of the roadway to pass the bicycle.
“For unknown reasons the bicyclist turned in front of (the RV),” and collided with it, read the report. “The bicycle rider was transported with serious injuries.”
Sheriff A.J. Smith confirmed that the bicyclist was Kody Pate, 27, of Eastpoint. The report said he was not wearing a bicycle helmet at the time.
On Wednesday, April 26, at about 8:16 a.m., on U.S. 98 just west of Apalachicola, a motorcyclist struck and killed a bear, and then suffered serious injuries when he was thrown from the bike.
According to the FHP report, William Charles Quaranta, Jr., 50, of Port St. Joe, told Trooper Raymond Bailey that he had tried to avoid a bear crossing the highway before spinning out of control.
According to an eyewitness, traveling westbound on U.S. 98, the motorcycle had passed and once they were on the straightaway of the highway, a bear entered the roadway and crossed to the other side.
“The bear then came back and ran directly in front of the motorcycle,” the eyewitness told the state trooper. “He said the driver fell off the motorcycle and went to the north shoulder on his right (while) the motorcycle went to the south shoulder.”
The report said a man who worked for the city of Apalachicola’s utility department arrived on the scene, and provided the driver with towels to stop the bleeding.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed that the bear was killed in the incident.
The FHP report said Quaranta suffered head injuries and was transported to Bay Medical Center in Panama City. It said he had a history of multiple convictions for driving with a license that had either been suspended or revoked.
FHP then issued a felony warrant for Quaranta for operating a motor vehicle while knowing having a suspended license with three or more convictions.