Cantonment Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash; Other Driver Charged With DUI Manslaughter And Fleeing

April 6, 2010

A Cantonment man was killed in a motorcycle accident in Pace, and the man that hit him is now in jail.

Motorcyclist Matthew Christopher Harrison, 29, of Cantonment, was eastbound on Highway 90 in Pace about 7:05 p.m. Monday when he was struck by a Ford Taurus driven by Ronnie L. Henley, 49, of Pace. Harrison laid down his motorcycle in an attempt to avoid Henley, but he was run over by Henley’s car, according to the FHP. Harrison was pronounced dead at the scene.

henleymatthew.jpgHenley (pictured) immediately fled the scene, according to the FHP. Witnesses, including an off-duty Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s deputy, followed him. Henley was stopped at the intersection of Floridatown Road and Cotton Road where he was arrested.

Troopers found Henley to be under the influence of alcohol, and blood samples were turned over to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. A small amount of marijuana was also located in the Taurus, the FHP said.

Henley was charged with DUI manslaughter, leaving the scene of a crash with death, and possession of marijuana under 20 grams. He remains in the Santa Rosa County Jail on $250,500 bond.

The accident is still under investigation.


20 Responses to “Cantonment Man Killed In Motorcycle Crash; Other Driver Charged With DUI Manslaughter And Fleeing”

  1. Anon on December 23rd, 2010 12:23 pm

    I ride and this really angers me! I grew up very near Ronnie and I love his Mother! Ronnie wasted his own life and now has taken away a Father from his children. I’m very sorry for the Henleys, but have little compassion for Ronnie.

  2. bobbie on April 10th, 2010 3:05 pm


  3. joe w on April 10th, 2010 1:49 pm


  4. TJ on April 9th, 2010 11:21 am

    Matthew’s Funeral will be held Wednesday April 14th at 1:00 pm at Bayveiw Memorial on Scenic Highway. There will be no viewing just a funeral.

  5. DS on April 9th, 2010 6:22 am

    Any word on funeral services for Matthew? I haven’t seen a notice yet?
    Thank you

  6. Garrett Renfrow on April 8th, 2010 1:41 pm

    i was a close friend of matts and it was such a shock to hear what had happened. matt had just got his motorcycle and loved it to death. he was like everybodys older brother always stressin to us not to do anything stupid. but as for MR.HENLEY im not mad about the accident because deep down inside how many of us have had ANYTHING to drink and drove wether it be a beer or two at dinner and drive straight home. because by law a DUI is the equivalant of about 2 to 3 beers depending on the person. and we dont know how drunk he was. and i am by no means sticking up for him because if i seen him im not too sure if i wouldnt go to jail. but the thing that makes me furious is that he tried to flea the seen. for this i belive he should be prosicuted to the fullest extent. matt was such a good friend and i no he was gonna be one hell of a dad and thats what hurts the most to know…. that he had his whole life ahead of him and this wasnt even his fault. my deepest simpathy goes out to his family because in no how hard it has been on us(all his friends) and to matt cannon if he reads this he’ll no why

  7. james chastang on April 7th, 2010 6:41 am

    matthew had a kid too thats who i feel bad for i know the little man his a grat kid that will learn all about his daddy when he get older

  8. Terry "big T" Richadson on April 7th, 2010 5:34 am

    Our deepest sympathies go out to the Harrison family. While I did not know Matthew Harrison, from Dawn Sanders account he was a credit to bikers everywhere. What a shame such a promising young life was taking away because an irresponsible driver had so little respect for the lives of others, that he got behind the wheel when he knew what could happen. Hopefully the justice system can keep him behind bars for many years and in doing so will save another life. The Harrison family will be in our prayers and if there is anything we can do please let us know.

    Terry “Big T” Richardson
    Vice President
    Christian Motorcyclist Association / Maranatha Riders

  9. Terry "big T" Richadson on April 7th, 2010 5:19 am

    Our deepest sympathys go out for the family of Matthew Harrison. Thank you Dawn Sanders for the letter letting people know that even when a cyclist does all the right things (and they usually are extremely cautious) there is little defense from the weight of an automobile when the driver cares little for the lives of others. If there is anything Christian Motorcyclist Association/Marantha Riders can do please let us know. The Harrison Family will be in our prayers. Hopefully the justice system will work and keep Mr. will spend the maximum time allowable by law behind bars and in doing so will be protecting the public.

  10. kersten on April 6th, 2010 10:49 pm

    First of all not all red necks are like that its everyone. Everyone needs some self dicipline if your gunna drink give your keys to someone else. People are just plain stupid. I was a friend of Matts and he was a amazing person I didn’t know him as long as others but what happened to him is tragic. He shoulnt have gone out like that. Thank you so much Ms. Or Mr. Sanders for clearing up what happened the news don’t give you enough information I really appreciate it. Harrison family you see in my prayers. I love and miss you Matt.

  11. bill, big b little ill on April 6th, 2010 3:18 pm

    It’s a shame alcohol has ruined another life and taken a innocent one. Our prayers for the Harrison family.

    I feel sorry for Henleys family, if he still has one. Alcololics will ruin a family, they only care about another drink. Prison life is the only way to keep the from drinking. Sounds cruel but he still has his life and Mr.Harrison don’t. The power of God is the only thing that can change a drunk. Jesus is the key.

  12. Tanya on April 6th, 2010 3:07 pm

    God Bless the Harrison family! Dawn Sanders – Your post was very touching. I hope the family has the opportunity to read what you wrote.

  13. Teresa on April 6th, 2010 3:02 pm

    I hope this man gets life if not the death penalty. What he did hit close to home and I am very upset and mad. The man is a murderer because he was drinking and driving and he was using drugs.

  14. ET on April 6th, 2010 1:21 pm

    Drunk Drivers at the time just don’t care about their life or anyone else life. But while we are on this subject, people that use cell phones while driving do not care for life either and the one’s that are texing are as bad as a drunk. Giving time before one of these driver run a motorcycle or pedestrian.

  15. Frank on April 6th, 2010 1:20 pm

    God help this family, you are in our prayer…Well, Santa Rosa Co., WELCOME to the effects of being a WET County….

  16. Dawn Sanders on April 6th, 2010 11:24 am

    I was traveling on Hwy 90 (across the fields between Pensacola and Pace) and the motorcyclist (now know to be Matthew Harrison) just minutes before the accident. I must say that Mr. Harrison was driving his motorcycle along Hwy 90 prior the accident with extreme caution and even commented to my 14 year old son how proud I was to see him wearing a helmet and fully dressed (vs. no helmet and improper clothing). When we were driving next to him on the fields, Mr. Harrison got sandwiched in traffic (he wasn’t in a hurry), so I slowed down to let us change lanes in front of us; and he signaled a thank you gesture with his hand. He made it through the traffic light at McDonald’s (Woodbine and 90) while we were stopped. He was still driving cautiously. Then just minutes later we were 3 or 4 cars behind the accident… and my son yelled “That’s the guy on the motorcycle.” I now found out that he laid his motorcycle down to avoid the accident; and as a experienced passenger on a motorcycle he did what he was supposed to in order to avoid the collusion. However, it saddens me deeply to know the end result of the crash. For the family of Mr. Harrison; I sincerely send my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Mr. Harrison. Please know that your son, friend, husband, (or whomever), that he was operating his motorcycle with extreme caution. I wish I had not let him merge in front on me on Hwy. 90, just minutes before the accident. He may still be alive. Sleeping last night was tough and my love goes out to all that knew Mr. Harrison. As far as Henley, I extremely hope that he is prosecuted above and beyond the fullest extent possible. A big thank you goes to the man in the green jeep that took off immediately after Henley, and subsequently led to Henley’s arrest. Damn you Henley for taking this young man’s life! Please don’t drink and drive; and always look for motorcyclist.

  17. Know your neighbor on April 6th, 2010 9:53 am

    Oh, it was just a biker. Real news if it were a child getting off the bus. Put him on death row ! I wish I had a minute with the car’s driver. He would think a train had run over him. Get the drunks off the road FHP. People WATCH FOR BIKERS !

  18. Cynical on April 6th, 2010 9:32 am

    Leaving the scene of an accident and drinking and driving are just “post dumb” behavior.

  19. Oak Grove Bud on April 6th, 2010 9:06 am

    Seems like it’s open season on running over and killing motorcyclist in this area.Third one in a month or less. Two deaths and a serious injury. Wish people were more aware of people on motorcycles. Good case of vehicular homicide. I’ve ridden my motorcycle all over the south and western part of the U.S., and south Alabama and Northwest Florida are the worst place to ride. My thoughts and prayers are with the family of this person who was tragically run over.

  20. jim bob on April 6th, 2010 7:34 am

    need more cops in milton and pace/more drugs there than pensacola/plus bunch of beer drinking red necks that dont care about anything

Have a comment on this story?

We welcome your comments on this story, but there are some rules to follow::

(1) Be Nice. No comments that slander another, no racism, no sexism, no personal attacks.

(2) No Harrassing Comments. If someone says something bad about you, don't respond. That's childish.

(3) No Libel. That's saying something is not true about someone. Don't do it.

(4) Keep it clean. Nothing vulgar, obscene or sexually related. No profanity or obvious substitutions. Period.

(5) reserves the right to remove any comments that violate our rules or we think to be inappropriate. We are not responsible for what is posted. Comments may not appear right away until they are approved by a moderator.

(6) Limit your comments to the subject in this story only, and limit comments to 300 words or less. Do not post copyrighted material. Comments will not be added to stories that are over 30 days old.

(7) No posts may advertise a commercial business or political group, or link to another commercial web site or political site of any kind.