Two teenage girls, aged 16 and 17, are dead after a 99-year-old man rammed into their vehicle in Florida’s St. Lucie County, according to officials familiar with the matter.
Walter Romney, who had recently been granted a driver’s license despite a warning being issued to the Michigan Secretary of State’s office about his ability to drive, was reportedly driving on the wrong side of road in his recreational vehicle.
Carolyn Elizabeth-Evans Bruns, 75, was accompanying Romney in his vehicle, and they struck a Chevrolet Silverado, which had 17-year-old Santia Myriah Feketa in the driver’s seat while her best friend, 16-year-old Britney Lee Poindexter, was seated next to her on the front seat. Both of them died in the crash.
The older couple in the RV sustained injuries, especially Romney, who is now in critical condition and so far has been unable to speak to the police about the accident, but Bruns, who police say is recovering “pretty well,” told Florida Highway Patrol Sgt. Raymond Stuhr that she had no idea why they were driving the wrong way, reports the Detroit Free Press.
According to her statement, interior lights in the RV were not working as she and Romney took turns to drive the vehicle on Florida’s interstate. However, she remembered the headlights working when she was driving, she said. But police say that the RV’s headlights were not switched on when Romney’s vehicle rammed into the Chevrolet — probably the reason that 17-year-old Feketa couldn’t see the RV in the dark and could not preempt the accident.
Bruns said she does not remember when the headlights stopped working, according to the police.
The granting of a license to a 99-year-old man with medical conditions may create problems for authorities, especially as there had been reservations against providing Romney a driver’s license. Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Al Feola believes that Romney cannot be prosecuted and as a result no charges have been brought against the nonagenarian. He argued that driving on the wrong side or having one’s headlights switched off are not legally prohibited. But he refused to confirm that stance pending an interview with Romney.
“I know it sounds crazy when you have two people dying, but that’s the way the law is,” he said.
Several of Feketa’s and Poindexter’s friends — nearly 100 in number — congregated to bid the girls their last goodbyes, reports the Shreveport Times.