SEBRING — A passenger got airlifted from a single-vehicle rollover on Saturday, the second in one week in the vicinity of the 90-degree turn on Sebring Parkway.
Gerald Sellick, 78, of Sebring did not have a seat belt on, according to Sebring Police Cmdr. Curtis Hart, but fortunately, he also was not ejected from the crew-cab Chevrolet 1500 pickup when it rolled over into the swales on the south side of the roadway.
Sellick was airlifted by Aeromed helicopter with non-incapacitating injuries to his leg, Hart said.
The wreck reportedly took place at 2:45 p.m. Police and emergency personnel received dispatches at 2:53 p.m., Hart said, and police arrived at 3 p.m.
The red 2006 Chevy truck was westbound prior to the wreck. The driver, 56-year-old Walter Brignoni of Sebring, told police another vehicle stopped short in front of him just beyond the 90-degree turn in the right-hand/outside travel lane.
He evaded by cutting to the right, and then over-corrected to the left.
The maneuver sent him through the median and into the swale on the opposite side of the road where the truck hit soft ground and rolled several times, landing upright, facing the road.
Brignoni had his seat belt on and had minor injuries, Hart said.
Hart said a witness — another motorist — reported seeing another vehicle in front of the red truck, possibly another pickup, but that vehicle left the scene.
The witness could not confirm that the other truck had stopped short, Hart said. The matter is still under investigation.
Both West Sebring Volunteer Fire Department and the Sebring Fire Department responded to the wreck with Highlands County Emergency Medical Services. Sebring city fire officials said their crews set up a landing zone at Sebring Parkway and Home Avenue, in a field behind the Sebring Lodge No. 249 of the Free and Accepted Masons — seven-tenths of a mile away.
Alcohol was not reported to be a contributing factor.
Last week, another motorist heading eastbound ran off the road into a grove by missing the 90-degree turn altogether.
At 10:26 p.m. last Tuesday, June 4, a white two-door coupe overshot the turn, went through a fence, plowed into a grove and overturned, according to Sebring Fire Department officials..
The car landed 80 feet from the roadway.
The turn has been the site of many rollover wrecks from drivers going too fast ever since Sebring Parkway Phase 1 was completed in 2000.
In all that time, there has been nothing forcing traffic to slow down for the turn, except flashing and bright-reflective warning signs.
Directors of Highlands County’s Engineering and Road & Bridge departments have opted to build a roundabout at that intersection to connect with Sebring Parkway Phase 3, now under construction, which will connect the turn to Memorial Drive at College Drive in Avon Park.
A roundabout requires all traffic to stop and wait for any cars already on the circle, before proceeding around the circle to the turn they want to make.
Therefore, motorists will soon need to be ready to slow down and stop at the “90-degree turn” once it becomes a roundabout.