Vehicular Mayhem in the AM

Tyler Kick, Writer - The Reporter

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         Early Monday morning, a car crashed into Stetson’s campus under the cover of darkness. After the situation was handled by authorities, the occurrence was buried under a cover of silence. I witnessed the crash and the moments leading to it and then shared my recordings of this incident with others. New information surrounding this campus crash was released. This is my account of the night’s events, but now with new information and new concerns to be had. 

         As my late night working in Conrad Hall rolls into an early morning and as my will to continue typing away begins to wane, screeching tires and some unfamiliar, metallic clamour jolts me wide awake. I peer outside to see the headlights of a car as it is barrelling through campus near the northside of the Rinker Welcome Center. The vehicle topples a light post, tramples through some chairs and tables, and tears up a path across the Stetson Green and surrounding bushes until a tree halted the car. The collision emits an otherworldly boom; it sounds nothing like the high-budget crashes in Hollywood films. 

         This impact is the first sound I caught on my phone camera. Georgy Porgy by Toto was still blaring from my phone from when I was still working. I find the juxtaposition between such upbeat classics and the gravity of this situation to be really funny, so the music must stay in my Snapchat story account of the situation. 

         The very next sight is one of athletic grace. A Public Safety officer hauls ass from west of the Welcome Center. I have never seen a Public Safety officer run until this morning, and even more amazing to me is how his strides could outpace a cart. The driver then gets out of the crashed vehicle to attempt to flee the scene. An epic chase ensues. Like a game of cat and mouse, the two circle around the library with bounding steps. There is a daring attempt to maneuver through the sunken patio space outside the library basement to return towards the wreck, but reinforcements pour out of an additional set of golf carts. The suspect is apprehended. 

         Flashing hues of red and blue illuminate the structures and trees near the library and Palm Court; DeLand’s finest arrive at the scene. The driver is handed over to the local authorities. The situation is now under control, so I go out to inspect the damage. 

         A light post lays near the Welcome Center on the ground with its decapitated light fixture not too far off. Two parallel tracks stretch across the grass. The metal furniture had been chewed, gnashed, and spit out to pollute this path as impossible debris. The two tracks reach across the Green, separate the brush, and then cease where the car slammed the tree. The sights seem surreal as helicopter blades slice the winds above. 

         Despite my consuming curiosity, I do not seek to question authorities amidst their investigation of the situation. I trust that the incident report from Public Safety and/or local authorities will provide answers about this event. I return to Conrad to finish my paper as the authorities clear out and clean up begins. The groundskeeping efforts almost completely mask the damages done except for a few missed spots. 

         Later in the day, I can no longer tell that there was a reckless driver that crashed on our campus. Even harder to believe is the lack of notification from the university to students about what had transpired. We now know that the driver was 28-year-old Patrick Ferguson attempting to flee from the police after stabbing a bar patron in DeLand. The bodycam footage features both a near miss as an officer had to evade Ferguson’s car and Ferguson’s wrecked car on Stetson’s campus. After poor performances on field sobriety tests, Ferguson’s breathalyzer tests across a 20 minute interval both had him well over the legal limit. “Ferguson is being charged with aggravated battery, assault on a law enforcement officer, attempted fleeing from law enforcement, reckless driving, driving under the influence and driving without a valid license. His bond was set at $14,000 and he has since bonded out.” (Coston, NewsDaytonaBeach). 

         Fortunately, most Stetson students were not out and about on campus at the time as this intoxicated suspect of a stabbing drove through recklessly and crashed. No students were harmed, but our sense of security is in question. How can we feel so secure if this was able to happen? Why has the university not released its own statement to students? Is this silence intentional? How can the university protect its students in case of future incidents? Is DeLand too dangerous? 

 

Diane Coston’s article:

https://newsdaytonabeach.com/stories/man-charged-in-deland-bar-stabbing,7958

Bodycam footage:

https://www.facebook.com/delandpd/videos/1043152272735139/