‘I’m really blessed’: Jacksonville man out of hospital after truck plummets off overpass onto I-95

A Jacksonville man is out of the hospital and in good spirits after a brush with death when his pickup truck went off an overpass onto Interstate 95 on Sunday morning.

Keith Dowling, 29, returned to the scene Monday to look for his belongings, including his cell phone.

A day earlier, a dozen or so people were trying to pry him out of his truck after it plummeted more than 20 feet onto the highway below. Another driver captured the crash on his dash camera and shared it with News4JAX.

“Everyone has people put their life on the line for me yesterday,” Dowling said. “So for that, I say thank you.”

It happened at the Clark Road overpass just north of Zoo Parkway and the Trout River on Jacksonville’s Northside.

“Everything around me shattered,” Dowling told News4JAX. “It’s just amazing I did not end up in the ICU or dead.”

He said he was driving his Ford F-250 work pickup truck when he lost control. His tires went over the sidewalk, and he skidded on the guardrail for a few dozen feet. He said he tried to gain control but couldn’t, and his truck went over the side, taking the guardrail and chunks of concrete with it.

“I went straight down headfirst,” he said, the truck landing in the median on its side.

He missed the traffic below but was trapped inside. A viewer’s picture shows people rushing in to help.

@putytat1 Replying to @Lacy Hudson ♬ original sound – Larry Morehead

“I just want to tell them thank you,” he said. “There were like 15 or 20 people that were out here. Just trying to help me get out of the truck. Make sure I was OK…I had just filled up. There were 36 or 38 gallons worth of gas coming out of there. There was no telling if it was going to catch fire at any time.”

Now the big remaining question: what happened?

“Buddy, I can’t give you an answer, I had the brakes redone on it in the last week, the last two weeks. $1,700 worth of brakes, tires, I don’t even have a good answer for that one,” he said, noting he wasn’t distracted, speeding or impaired.

Dowling is fortunate, escaping with only a broken nose, cuts, and bruises. In October of 2021, a Jacksonville family was not. Sean Tumlin, 31, and his 3-year-old daughter Grace died when their SUV went over this same bridge onto the same highway. His 8-year-old Susan was seriously hurt. It raises serious safety concerns about the roadway.

A Federal Highway Administration report shows the bridge is 63 years old, built in 1960. With more than 2,500 vehicles passing over it each day, and an inspection in 2021, it’s considered to be in “good” shape overall. However, the National Bridge Inventory report notes the railings do not meet currently accepted standards. Transitions are listed to have the same problem.

The report also calls the underclear “basically intolerable.”

Clark Road is a city of Jacksonville road with a speed limit of 35 miles an hour. News4JAX reached out to the city’s communications team asking when the bridge was inspected and if anything had been done to make it safer after the double fatal crash in 2021. We are waiting to hear back.

We brought a tape measure just to see how tall this guard rail is. Measuring from the concrete sidewalk to the top of the metal guardrail, we found it is a little more than 34 inches tall. A temporary rail put in after Sunday’s crash is slightly shorter, about 31 to 32 inches. The sidewalk is 5-feet wide.

Dowling was picking up the pieces from the crash and still looking for some of his belongings, but beyond thankful to be alive.

“I’m really blessed,” he said. “Truly blessed and highly favored.”

He said he has not had contact with any of the people who helped them but he’d love to meet them someday.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash, and News4JAX requested their incident report for more details.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation said because it is a city road, the overpass is maintained by the city. However, he said FDOT was available to assist if requested.

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