Fatal wreck shows high risks for ‘good Samaritans’ on Florida’s highways

Helping people was part of Marcasia Crenshaw’s DNA, according to family and friends. It ended up costing the 25-year-old Boynton Beach mother her life Sunday night.

Crenshaw was traveling southbound on Interstate 95 near Titusville when she came upon a disabled van stranded in a travel lane and got out to help. A Chevy pickup swerved once to avoid the van and then again to avoid a crash. It struck Crenshaw as she desperately ran toward the interstate’s grass median. She died at the scene.

“Anybody should be applauded for wanting to help somebody,” said Sgt. Mark Wysocky, FHP spokesman. “They just want to help, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”

» Get the latest breaking news at PalmBeachPost.com

But much can go wrong when a “good Samaritan” motorist, as FHP called Crenshaw, gets out of their vehicle to assist another on a super-fast highway, especially at night. Even seasoned troopers who first run through a list of precautions are susceptible.

Trooper Any Ong, 51, was working speed enforcement on I-95 in Lantana on Oct. 1 when he was seriously injured after two vehicles collided and one struck him. Ong spent more than six weeks at Delray Medical Center, undergoing several surgeries, before being released Friday.

“You just have to be careful, but even being careful is no certainty that something may not happen,” Wysocky said. “It only takes one driver who isn’t paying attention or focused on something else for a tragedy to take place.”

A spokesman for the American Automobile Association said motorists should pull over to the roadway’s shoulder before taking further action. If a stranded vehicle is in the roadway, calling 911 may be the best approach.

“Good Samaritans should always put safety first when considering helping a stranded motorist,” spokesman John Pecchio said.

Motorists who stop to help others, particularly at night, should use flashlights, interior car lights, reflecting cones or anything else “to help increase visibility,” Wysocky said. If there is a second person in the vehicle, that person should serve as a lookout while the first person assists.

There are no statistics available that accurately show the number of people either killed or injured in such incidents. Crenshaw, for instance, was considered a pedestrian, and her death will be counted in state records that way.

While crashes involving people walking on highways are rare, they are often fatal.

Arnold Mettulus, a 59-year-old Road Ranger, was killed Oct. 26, 2014, after he was struck in a hit-and-run crash while standing by the driver’s side door of a disabled vehicle on northbound I-95, near Palmetto Park Road in Boca Raton. More than three years later, no arrest has been made in the case.

The state’s Move Over law requires motorists either to move over a lane or slow to a speed 20 mph less that the posted speed limit for stopped law enforcement, emergency, sanitation, utility service vehicles and tow trucks.

The typical driver, even a good Samaritan like Crenshaw, is not covered under the Move Over law, further increasing the level of difficulty of coming to the aid of a stranded motorist.

“Our troopers are out there with reflective vests, cones and flashing lights and things still happen,” Wysocky said. “The thing is to be as careful as possible, but then everybody might be doing everything right and something tragic like this still happens.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Spirit Ride shows up in West Palm, Boynton with directive for drivers
Spirit Ride shows up in West Palm, Boynton with directive for drivers

The life of Woodson Metellus, then 18, was forever changed when his father, Arnold Metellus, a 59-year-old Haitian immigrant who lived in Boynton Beach and worked as a Road Ranger, was standing next to a disabled vehicle at 1 a.m., Oct. 26, 2014 near the Palmetto Park Road exit northbound Interstate 95 In one moment he was a hard-working husband, and...
Nina and Pinta replicas dock at Harbourside Place
Nina and Pinta replicas dock at Harbourside Place

It was a calm morning at the Harbourside Place dock where two huge wooden ships sat. A small crew was quickly tying knots, adjusting sails and setting up for visitors that were expected to arrive soon. Carved in the back of the 85-foot, black colored ship was the word “Pinta” and in front was the Nina — a 65-foot beauty. These two...
Boynton to buy programs to improve garbage pick up, 911 dispatch
Boynton to buy programs to improve garbage pick up, 911 dispatch

Residents could notice an improvement in the city’s 911 dispatch and garbage pick-up services following the City Commission’s approval this week for staff to buy upgraded programs for both. The city’s dispatch program now requires call-takers to ask irrelevant information and provides instructions for...
 NEW: Authorities arrest 14 migrants near Singer Island
 NEW: Authorities arrest 14 migrants near Singer Island

Authorities arrested 14 migrants who attempted to come ashore Thursday night near Singer Island.  The situation unfolded at about 10:30 p.m. Those taken into custody included seven Haitians, four Bolivians and three Chinese, Homeland Security spokesman Nestor Yglesias said.  No other details were disclosed as the incident remains under investigation...
Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says
Immunotherapy plus chemo doubles lung cancer survival, study says

Chemotherapy and radiation are common treatments for lung cancer. However, immunotherapy may be able to help double a patient’s survival, according to a new report. Researchers from New York University’s Perlmutter Cancer Center recently conducted a study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, to determine which treatments...
More Stories