Lanark Village woman killed in Taylor County crash

A prominent member of the Lanark Village community was killed Monday afternoon in a one-car accident in Taylor County.

Sharon H. Thoman, 67, a former president of the board of the Lanark Village Water and Sewer District, died after her car ran off the road around 12:10 p.m. as it was headed westbound on U.S. 98, a little more than one mile west of County Road 647.

Thoman was a staffer at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Lab at Alligator Point.

According to the report filed by Florida Highway Patrol crash investigator, Sgt, Aaron Stephens, and homicide investigator Cpl. Scotty Lolley, Thoman’s vehicle exited the roadway to the north shoulder, and she tried to correct by steering to the left, and then overcorrected to the right and lost control of the 2006 Kia Sorrento.

The report said the vehicle overturned an unknown number of times and entered a water-filled ditch, where it came to rest facing southeast on its roof, with Thoman trapped inside, underwater. When they arrived, the state troopers found the vehicle facing north, upright, on the north shoulder, because it was moved by Taylor County Fire and Rescue.

Thoman was taken to Doctor’s Memorial Hospital in Perry, and pronounced dead. The report said Thoman was wearing her seatbelt, and that alcohol tests are pending.  – By David Adlerstein


Carrabelle woman charged with DUI manslaughter

A 23-year-old Carrabelle woman has been charged with DUI manslaughter in connection with an April 17 crash in Carrabelle that killed the son of Sopchoppy Mayor Colleen Skipper.

Rebecca Padowitz, 23, was arrested on Oct. 4 by Franklin County sheriff’s deputies.

Crash reports showed Padowitz’s blood alcohol level was 0.17, more than twice the legal limit the day of the crash, which was her 23rd birthday.

The Florida Highway Patrol reported that a 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Padowitz spun out on a curve on U.S. 98 near Lake Morality Road, flipped over, struck a tree and caught fire. Rona Hawkins, Jr., 28, was thrown from the car and killed.

Padowitz sustained serious injuries and was treated at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Julian Collins, a second passenger, was wearing a seat belt, and did not sustain injuries. .  – By David Adlerstein


County retains lawyer in fishing pier case

Franklin County commissioners have voted to retain outside counsel as they seek to make sure the county is compensated for damages to the St. George Island fishing bridge that occurred June 28 during Tropical Storm Debby.

The commissioners Oct. 2 voted unanimously to hire Robert Dees, certified by the Florida Bar in maritime and admiralty law. County Attorney Michael Shuler said Dees had agreed to receive $200 an hour, less than his customary hourly rate of $300 an hour. Dees’ services will become necessary in the event that the county’s insurance carrier denies coverage and payment is sought from Progress Energy or its subcontractor for the damages, caused when a barge smashed into the pier.

Greg Preble, from the Preble-Rish engineering firm, shared a proposal at the meeting to repair the165-foot gap in the pier and the broken pilings and dangling pipes and cables. He said equipment from the barge fell into the water, along with three concrete sections of the bridge, creating a potential liability for the county.

He said it is so far too expensive to send divers to inspect the situation below the water, but he believed the heavy bridge decking may have damaged remaining pilings below the water line.

Preble said the project would require a budget of about $900,000, comprising a 16-foot wide timber pier superstructure on concrete pilings, capable of withstanding pedestrians, emergency vehicles and new storms, for $600,000, another $200,000 for debris removal and an additional $100,000 in case further damage is detected.

The debris would be removed to make way for new pilings, and placed on top of the existing debris site in the water, rather than hauled offshore.

Preble estimated the project would take eight months assuming no regulatory delays, half of that spent in construction, and would be completed by June 1, 2013.

The commissioners voted to take the funds out of the $1.66 million in the bridge fund, which was set up by the state after it built the new bridge a decade ago.

Shuler cautioned the commissioners that recouping the money is not necessarily a sure thing. “There are no guarantees,” he said. “Keep expectations reasonable.”