3 dead in local crashes


Three people have died in area car wrecks, including one early this morning, since Christmas.

Matias Ault, 20, Lake City; Robert Flint, 76, Lake City; and an unidentified man were killed in separate crashes, according to FHP releases.

Ault was headed north on State Road 47 near SW Ward Lane at 1:48 a.m. today when his 2013 Kia Optima ran off the road and hit a utility pole, FHP said. Ault died at the scene.

His two passengers, Zachary Smithy, 20, and Victor Arteaga, 19, both of Lake City, suffered serious injuries and were transported to a local hospital.

Ault was wearing a seat belt. Blood alcohol tests on Ault are pending, a release stated. The passengers had not been drinking, according to the release, which says they were not belted in.

Flint was a passenger in a 2003 Ford F250 driven by Jimmy Skipper, 62, Lake City, when the pickup, traveling north on State Road 47 near County Road 340 in Gilchrist County at 6:20 p.m. on Friday, left the roadway and struck a vehicle pulling a utility trailer that had stopped on the shoulder.

The F250 overturned several times and Flint, who was not wearing a seat belt according to FHP, was ejected. Flint was flown to UF Health Shands where he died. Skipper was also transported to UF Health Shands for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, FHP said.

The driver and passenger of the 2012 Dodge Ram that was hit, Terry Pucket, 28, and Eric Grills, 28, both of Branford, were not hurt, according to a release, which said they had stopped so that Grills could put a wheelbarrow that had fallen off back on the utility trailer.

No one involved in this wreck had been drinking, FHP said.

A fiery Saturday morning crash claimed the life of an unidentified man who was headed west on US 90 at 4:40 a.m. in a 2014 Infiniti QX70 SUV when the vehicle ran off the south shoulder and hit two large trees and a fence, FHP said.

The Infiniti erupted in flames, “consuming the vehicle and driver,” who is yet to be identified, a release stated.

FHP said it is not known if alcohol was a factor in the crash.