Two people were killed in a traffic accident that shut down the westbound lanes of U.S. Hwy 98 near the Hurlburt Field main entrance for nearly five hours on Thursday. Seven vehicles were damaged in the crash, in which three Navarre residents and one Gulf Breeze residents were involved.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Kurt and Pamela Graetzer, of Bradenton, died from injuries sustained when the Honda Element they were in was struck from behind at about 1:25 p.m. by a box truck driven by Devin Endresen of Contonment. The Graetzers and three of the other damaged vehicles were stopped at the traffic light at Cody Ave. when the box truck failed to stop in time and struck the rear of the Honda Element. The Element was propelled forward into a Ford F150 driven by Stephen Williams of Gulf Breeze, whose truck was rotated counterclockwise and propelled into a Buick Lesabre driven by James Calbert Jr., or Navarre.
Calbert’s Lesabre was jolted forward into two additional Navarre residents, Clifford Holmes and David Powell, who were in a Ford F150 which was also stopped for the red signal light at Cody Ave. Meanwhile, the box van continued to roll through stopped traffic and also hit the F150 driven by Williams and the Lesabre driven by Calbert.
A GMC truck and trailer driven by Carolyn McNew of Fort Walton Beach was also sideswiped in the incident, while a Nissan Murano carrying Kristi Callanan, Sean Callanan and Connor Callanan — a family visiting from Texas — in the eastbound lanes of Hwy 98 was struck by debris from the accident.
All involved in the wreck, with the exception of the Graetzers, were treated for minor injuries. The FHP indicated that the Graetzers were wearing seat belts.
Read the June 20 Navarre Press for a follow-up.
Total damages to the seven vehicles was a combined $36,000, according to the FHP report.
(AP Photo/Northwest Florida Daily News, Nick Tomecek)