DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – At least four people, including a 5-year-old beachgoer, were injured Sunday afternoon when a car drove through a toll booth and onto Daytona Beach before going into the ocean, according to Volusia County Beach Safety.
The crash happened around 5 p.m. as the driver, apparently suffering from some sort of medical episode, was approaching from Daytona International Speedway, officials said. According to beach safety officials, the toll booth was obliterated, but nobody was working in it at the time.
According to a Volusia County Beach Safety incident report, a woman in the car tried to remove the driver’s foot from the accelerator, but she was only able to steer through traffic during the incident.
Volusia officials said the child, who suffered a chest wound, was in stable condition at a hospital. The 5-year-old boy’s father, Hugo Alamos, said his son is still in the hospital as of Monday afternoon, having gotten stitches after sustaining major cuts down his arm and chest. Alamos said they plan to head home to Tennessee Monday once his son is discharged.
The other victims, all of whom were in the car, were transported to the hospital for precautionary reasons, according to Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue Deputy Chief Tamra Malphurs.
“It may have been a seizure. We just don’t know at this time. When he came over the bridge, he went through the beach access ramp, hitting the gate and the toll booth,” Malphurs said.
Witnesses on the beach jumped in to help after the car barreled into the ocean.
“I heard a giant crash (when the car struck the toll booth). I mean, I thought it was either a firework that went off or I mean something bad just happened,” beachgoer Jake Lofland said.
“(The car) was going like 40 miles per hour, and it obliterated the toll booth and came barreling all the way through. People were dodging left and right to get out of the way,” Nicole Mathis said.
Mathis, Lofland and his wife, Shannon, then began to help.
“I heard it. I saw it and I followed the line of travel and our son was in the water, so I took off calling his name and I took off to the water,” Shannon Lofland said.
They then worked to push the car out of the waves and back onto the beach and get the family out of the car.
“The car was just back and forth, and it kept hitting us. It was dangerous. And Nicole was saying roll down the window, you have to come out the window. It was awful,” Shannon Lofland said.
UPDATE: Volusia County Beach Safety identified driver in crash as 28 year old Christian Rivera-Rosado from Springfield, MA— Ezzy Castro (@EzzyCastro) July 25, 2022
Crash report says Rivera-Rosado “was not coherent and did not remember the events leading to the crash” @news6wkmg https://t.co/uj4IhGiWSm
“We got the girls out of the back and the wife out of the front seat,” Mathis said.
The group said the driver was unconscious but eventually came to. Lifeguards then ran in to treat the driver.
“Apparently, (the driver) said, ‘I’m going to have a seizure,’ and (the others in the car) thought he was joking, but then he really was having a seizure so they knew all the way down the road that he was unconscious and unable to drive,” Mathis said.
A new toll booth arrived at the beach Monday morning, and beach officials said they expected the access to be opened later in the day.
“We’re very fortunate that no one else was injured. That is a very busy beach access ramp. It’s usually in that time of day we usually have a lot of people in that area,” Malphurs said.
The driver was cited for careless driving, officials said.
An investigation is ongoing.