99-year-old in fatal Florida crash passed eye, road tests

February 9, 2018

In this Feb. 7, 2018, photo, friends and family gather in a grassy median on Okeechobee Road, west of the St. Lucie County Fairgrounds where a few teenagers were killed in a head-on crash in Fort Pierce, Fla. A 99-year-old man who investigators say killed the teenagers in a head-on crash by driving his RV at night without headlights on the wrong side of the Florida highway recently passed a re-examination in his home state of Michigan that allowed him to keep his driver's license. (Jeremiah Wilson/The Stuart News via AP)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A 99-year-old man who investigators say killed two teenagers this week by driving his RV on the wrong side of a Florida highway was cleared to drive in Michigan last month after he passed vision, paper and road tests and got the approval of two medical professionals, a state spokesman said Friday.

The Michigan Secretary of State’s Office gave more information about a re-examination that Walter Roney passed Jan. 8, four months after someone asked motor vehicle officials to determine if he was still competent to drive.

The Tuesday night crash in Fort Pierce, Florida, killed best friends Santia Feketa, 18, and Britney Poindexter, 17. They were on their way to a skating rink.

Fred Woodhams, a spokesman for Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, said Thursday that Roney, of Dearborn, Michigan, was determined to have an acceptable medical condition at the re-examination. On Friday, he said Roney also had favorable statements from two medical professionals and cleared eye, knowledge and on-the-road tests.

Woodhams would not say who flagged Roney’s ability to drive, citing confidentiality policies. He said referrals typically come from law enforcement, a family member or a medical professional.

According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Roney and his 75-year-old girlfriend, Carolyn Elizabeth-Evans Bruns of Brighton, Michigan, were driving Tuesday from Melbourne on Florida’s Atlantic coast, where property records show Roney owns a condo. They were headed to Port Charlotte on the state’s Gulf Coast to have interior electrical issues with their RV repaired. They exited Interstate 95 in Fort Pierce shortly before 7 p.m., with Roney taking over the driving from Bruns.

Somehow, Lt. Alvaro Feola said, Roney headed west in the eastbound lanes of Florida 70, a four-lane highway that crosses the state. Feola said it does not appear the RV’s headlights were turned on, although Bruns told investigators they had been working when she was driving.

Feketa was driving east in her 2013 Chevrolet Silverado with Poindexter in the passenger seat when Roney’s RV smashed into them.

Roney and Bruns remained hospitalized in critical condition on Friday.


Follow David Eggert on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/David%20Eggert

Update hourly