June 8, 2016
On Wednesday, 06/08/2016, at 12:01 A.M., James Reed Austin was traveling south bound in a white 2002 Toyota Corolla on Ferdon Blvd approaching the intersection of James Lee Blvd. Austin stated he swerved to the left to avoid hitting an armadillo that was crossing the road in front of him.
Austin’s vehicle crossed the center turn lane, both north bound lanes of Ferdon Blvd, jumped the curb and struck a utility pole located just south of McCaskill Ave in front of Emerald Coast Clothing and Tanning which is located at 395 N. Ferdon Blvd. The vehicle went through the utility pole, breaking it off at the bottom and came to rest facing south on the East shoulder of the roadway.
As a result, the transformer on the pole exploded and caused Emerald Coast Clothing to catch fire. This power disruption also caused a second fire at the intersection of Ferdon Blvd and James Lee Blvd to the free standing Crestview High School sign.
Austin’s vehicle sustained an estimated $3,000.00 in damage.
According to a Crestview Fire Department spokesman, although the structure itself at Emerald Coast Clothing sustained minimal damage on the outside, the interior walls were damaged due to the fire and the contents were a total loss due to smoke and water damage.
The sign at the corner of Ferdon and James Lee sustained minor damage to the wiring and wood frame.
Gulf Power reported a total of 2,700 residents were without power at 12:30 AM and power was fully restored by 6:25 AM.
Crestview Fire Department responded with 3 fire engines and 13 firefighters, Gulf Power Company responded with 4 bucket trucks, 1 auger truck and multiple personnel. Crestview Police Department investigated the vehicle accident while the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office provided assistance with Traffic control.
Austin was cited for Careless driving and transported to the North Okaloosa Medical Center by a family member.