NOCATEE, Fla. — A popular Nocatee fitness group is warning about the dangers of a busy intersection after they say a distracted driver drove into the crowd of walkers Wednesday night.
Members of NocRucks gathered for their weekly group walk and headed to the Willow Cove neighborhood to look at Christmas lights. The group's leader says they were crossing the intersection when an approaching car drove right into the crowd.
"I heard the screams because the car wasn't stopping, I turned around then I heard the thud of bodies being hit by a car and then the woman pulled over and people were screaming and crying," said Noc Rucks Hiking Club Leader Tom Simon.
As more than 60 people of all ages attempted to cross the street, Simon says he and other leaders tried to hold up traffic to help people get to the other side safely.
That was until a distracted driver didn't stop.
"There were no cars coming when we stopped the traffic but when people were trying to get across the street a car came roaring around the corner, she was texting and driving and drove into the crowd," Simon said.
While most were able to get out of the way, Simon says one man and a dog were hurt.
He says the driver did pull over and was remorseful.
"The guy was bumps, bruises, scrapes. The dog ended up having a dislocated and lots and lots of abrasions on its flesh," Simon said.
Simon says the intersection at Preservation Trail and Palm Breeze Drive is busy in all directions and does not have the proper traffic signals for drivers or pedestrians.
"I think this would be a very logical intersection to have a red light at or some ability for people to get across the street safely because there is just a lot of foot traffic with bikes, walkers and other vehicles and becomes a dangerous intersection day in and day out," Simon said.
The group plans to increase its own safety protocols by wearing more reflective clothing and bringing more lights.
"I think this was a wake up call to a lot of us in the club that it's a dangerous thing to do, and you need to focus on what's in front of you," Simon said.
We reached out to St. Johns County officials about whether there are plans to improve safety signals in this intersection but have not heard back.
Simon says the group does not want to press charges against the driver and will continue its weekly walks and invites anyone to join but hopes people driving through this intersection will stay aware of their surroundings.