OCALA, Fla. - One driver is in serious condition after being thrown from his Chevrolet Corvette following an alleged street racing collision.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), it happened on Nov. 18, just after 8:40 a.m. on State Road 200. FHP Lt. Patrick Riordan said the photographs are alarming, even for someone accustomed to seeing crash scenes.
"Generally, you don’t see collisions that totally destroy a vehicle to this degree," Riordan said.
The crash took place about 200 feet from Ryan’s Barber Shop. Owner Ryan Panzegraph said it was one of the craziest things he had ever witnessed.
"We could feel it! We could hear it and feel it!" Panzegraph recalled. "It sounded like a bomb went off."
From his shop window, Panzegraph said he watched the high-speed collision play out. He said he watched the driver get thrown at least 130 feet from the car.
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"I have never seen a human body go that far in the air," Panzegraph said. "So, it was something I didn’t really know how to process at the time."
According to FHP, the 38-year-old Corvette driver first hit a Toyota Prius, the occupants of which were uninjured. The Corvette then slammed into a power pole, and finally a tree before coming to a stop.
Street racing is on the rise in Florida, said Lt. Riordan, especially over the last five years. He also said the driver was not wearing a seat belt at the time.
"He’s very lucky to be alive," Riordan said. "By the grace of God, he’s still alive, but he did sustain some very, very serious injuries, and is still in the hospital."
Credit: Marion County Fire Rescue
Automotive columnist and former police officer Steven Cole Smith estimated the driver was traveling around 60 to 80 miles per hour.
"It’s hard to tell because a Corvette does not act like a normal car. It’s made of fiberglass and the body shatters as opposed to folds around you," Smith said. "It’s a good, strong car, especially the 2016 model, that’s called a Corvette C7, the seventh generation, so it’s a very well-built car, and obviously it did take care of this guy to some extent because he is alive, which is amazing."
A search is now underway for the other man accused in the alleged street race. According to FHP, the wanted driver stopped to check on the Corvette driver, before fleeing the scene.
"It was clear that he didn’t want his identity known because he concealed his vehicle behind a local business," Riordan said. "It’s not like he had his vehicle out there front and center. He had parked it behind a business to conceal it, he went over briefly, checked on the driver, but he left and that’s clearly a violation of Florida statute."
The fleeing driver is described as a heavy-set male with a beard and distinctive arm tattoos. He was driving a newer model silver Ford Mustang with dark window tinting. If you know him, you’re asked to contact FHP.