Eight Navy Personnel Hit By Drunk Driver On Perdido Key

April 30, 2017

Eight Navy personnel from NAS Pensacola were injured — some with life threatening injuries — when they were struck by a vehicle Saturday night on Perdido Key in Escambia County.

The Florida Highway Patrol has arrested 56-year old Eric Duncan Watt of Pensacola for DUI in connection with the crash. He was released from the Escambia County Jail on a $40,000 bond  about 8:50 Sunday morning. The FHP said additional charges could be forthcoming as their investigation continues.

The FHP said Watt was westbound on Perdido Key Drive east of River Road in a 2003 Infiniti M45 when he hit the eight pedestrians.

The injured have been identified as Jordan Lo with critical injuries; Kevin Park, Steven Parsons, Brandon Nunez, Travis Hehman and Jerome Wallar with serious injuries; Christian Martinez with minor injuries; and Christopher Martinez with no injuries.


54 Responses to “Eight Navy Personnel Hit By Drunk Driver On Perdido Key”

  1. Sherri Glynn Steward on May 10th, 2017 12:59 am

    I’ll pray for everyone involved, but mostly for all the injured to recover.

  2. woo on May 4th, 2017 3:13 pm

    Unending thanks to all of you who are praying for the injured. Our friend, the most severely injured, remains in critical condition. Please continue to pray for God to bless our friend with his miracles of healing and restoration and as difficult as it is to ask, please pray for Mr. Watt as well.

  3. Carmen Porta on May 3rd, 2017 9:23 pm

    Can we get an update on the current status of the victims, especially Jordan Lo? My husband and I passed the accident scene about 5 minutes after it happened and saw all of the bodies lying still along the road. A very horrible, haunting scene. I pray that they all will recover with no lasting injuries. Thanks for whatever information that anyone can share.

  4. David Huie Green on May 3rd, 2017 12:15 am

    “Yes he was drunk, but do we know alcohol levels in his blood?”

    From this article, we don’t actually know he was drunk. We know he was charged with DUI. The title tells us he was “Drunk Driver On Perdido Key” so we assume it is true but don’t personally know.

    Assuming he WAS drunk, it doesn’t really matter how many drinks it took to get him that way.

    “No law and no one gave you right to hunt, humiliate and disrespect citizens like that”

    If he really was driving and killing while drunk as you claim, he is not worthy of respect and has humiliated himself. I imagine people are just trying to figure out why he would do such a thing, just as some are trying to blame those he killed, the street lighting, the number of lanes, the mice, the turtles, the state of Florida. Maybe they’re all guilty of contributing — maybe not. People have a right to speculate — just as you did — just as they will if I do something wrong.

    David for truth and avoiding being accused

  5. AdrianB on May 2nd, 2017 10:30 pm

    We don’t know what happened really. Maybe street wasn’t lit enough, maybe he got flat tire or bad brakes. People jump accusing driver without any evidence. Yes he was drunk, but do we know alcohol levels in his blood? For all we know he could have had a glass of beer. Were pedestrians crossing road where it’s allowed to? Were they abiding the rules? Was road marked properly? I’ve seen a lot of accidents where it was a pedestrians fault and/or local government fault for not providing appropriate driving/road conditions. 8 people as a group at night partying at the club? I can see how that not going to end well if you ask me. I can also see how some nasty individuals opened a hunt for the driver on social networks, local papers and so on. If this is the kind of people who are doing it, they are no better than the driver. No law and no one gave you right to hunt, humiliate and disrespect citizens like that

  6. Bob's Brother on May 1st, 2017 10:38 pm

    The lighting thing? Give me a break. Automobile headlights are better than they’ve ever been. This dude was smashed. He’s gonna pay a heavy toll. Prison is likely. I’ll say a prayer for the American soldiers who were injured…

  7. Spencer Howard on May 1st, 2017 5:19 pm

    My grandson and Jordan Lo are like brothers. Friends since middle school, attended college together and just graduated last year. Jordan is an awesome Young man who doesn deserve this.

  8. Pcolamomof4 on May 1st, 2017 5:08 pm

    Just curious, has his blood alcohol level been released? Also if anyone else was wondering why he got out so fast, this is why:

    Conditions for Release of Persons Arrested for DUI-s. 316.193 (9), F.S.

    The person is no longer under the influence and;
    The person’s normal faculties are no longer impaired
    The person’s blood/breath alcohol level is lower than 0.05; or
    Eight hours have elapsed from the time the person was arrested.

  9. Angel on May 1st, 2017 3:24 pm

    This man chose to drive drunk….His choice he struck 8 pedestrians because he was under the influence….This man stole these young mens future he will never understand or fathom what he put their loved ones through…I pray justice will prevail and he is convicted of drunk driving or any other charges that are brought forth….#noexcusefordrunkdriving#prayingfortheseyoungmensfamily

  10. Aida on May 1st, 2017 12:46 pm

    It is easy to hit a single walking person, but a group of eight? Dim light or bright light, Watt should not have been allowed to drive home. Does FLorida have a law against serving customer to a point of drunken stupor and allow them to drive ? If Watt is an alcoholic, there is enough help available for him to get out of being a drunk. Now what ?, these young aspiring kids who signed up for the Navy will be limited to desk jobs when they could do more. Watt has to do more than a simple ‘I am sorry I was drunk?’ I have no sympathy for drunk drivers.

  11. Laura jackson on May 1st, 2017 11:08 am

    We was on vacation when this happened.. We could see everything from our condo. This strip is very dangerous. People where walking right out in front of us to get over to florabama. At night people where walking on the side of the streests. you couldnt see them. The street needs more lights. Its very dark. I hope the ones involved in this tragic accident is going to be OK. Prayers for all involved.

  12. Bobbie Swanson on May 1st, 2017 11:04 am

    God, please take these young sailors in your healing arms and guide the doctors treating them so they can resume their flight training.
    How sad for 8 student Naval Aviators to make it this far in the program.for some of them to be fighting for their lives.

    Because of a drunk driver, instead of fighting for their country. As for the driver you are the judge for this man.

    God’s blessing Jordan Lo and your friends.

  13. Jerry on May 1st, 2017 10:00 am

    Prayers to all involved!! So sad.

  14. doug on May 1st, 2017 9:37 am

    They just spent all that money to re-pave that road. FOR NOTHING !. Bumps still there. Should have four laned that road with bike/walk paths. Just a waiste of monety. IDIOTS !!

  15. Erik moller on May 1st, 2017 9:13 am

    My daughter attended the U.S. Navy Officer Candidate School with some of these fine young people, who were in Florida to realize a dream to become Naval Aviators. I hope you will all either pray, or focus positive thoughts on a full recovery for each one of them. Our country cannot easily afford to lose the cream of our future generations.

  16. Betty H on May 1st, 2017 7:44 am

    Forget the lighting etc…The guy was driving drunk and for that he is 100% to blame…My prayers are all for the young soldiers he hit…I hope this driver wakes up in jail every day for a long time

  17. Pauline on May 1st, 2017 3:12 am

    I know one of the victims personally he is the kind of young man you want your sons to be like always achieving his highest potential and such a friendly guy. With that being said wether the lights are dim and not safe for pedestrians blah, blah, blah that man choose to drink and get in his car drunk to run over not one, not two, but seven people it could of probably happened in broad daylight because HE WAS DRUNK. So today while he got out of jail went home took a shower, ate something visited with his family these kids parents are at that hospital wondering if their children will ever take a shower, or eat, or talk with them, or even LIVE. So I’m sorry if I don’t sympathize with the DRUNK DRIVER but that will be something I will have to worry about come judgement day…and so will he.

  18. Howie on May 1st, 2017 2:26 am

    @ smh > I’m not blaming dark roads as the excuse. I’m explaining why I don’t drive that road after dark. It’s a beach route and you are going to have pedestrians around and on the road. Most importantly, I don’t drink alcohol. And if that’s all you could think to write was on my comment. Well you are in left field and go pick on someone else before the boogie man gets you.

    @ Anne – the first comment here – very good message.

  19. David Huie Green on April 30th, 2017 11:33 pm

    Those of you who drink will continue to justify yourselves and blame those who “shouldn’t've gotten in your way” or poor lighting which could be allowed for by driving more slowly and actually watching where you’re going.

    No cure for that.

    In the interest of removing one excuse from drunk drivers, the lighting can be changed up. Generally amber or yellow lights don’t distract and confuse sea turtles, they won’t confuse them with the sun. (Also, FWC says they’re nearly blind to blue or violet, so that should be safe.) LEDs can produce any single color or set of colors. Also, they can be as focused as a laser or set up to diverge as much as desired. They can also be turned on or off as often as desired.

    Therefor, the road could be lighted with LEDs aimed to only light the road itself and maybe 10′ on either side. They could also be set up to stagger which ones are on at any given time. That way, if they still confused turtles into thinking they were the sun, they also wouldn’t know which way to go since the source would keep moving.

    To cause even less confusion and energy cost, they could be tied into motion detectors to only turn on the lights when cars, pedestrians or bicyclists were present.

    Light when, where and only as needed.

    David for shining a light

  20. Belinda on April 30th, 2017 11:04 pm

    First and for most my prayers goes out to the eight young menwho was involved in this heriffic accident. My family was there minutes after it happened.I had my husband pull over and I got out of our vehicle and began to pray over these individuals lives.Because this eas someone’s loved ones ,friends and children. I’m a person who feels 6hat F/B needs to be moved off of the main street.we have been held up many occasions going to events held at the Wharf.And most of the people walking to the F/B have already been drinking. Yesterday ee almost hit a car in the rear that skamed on breaks in the middle of traffic to let several people out of there car to start walking to the Bama.They could have been hit just as well.I want to send my prayers to all of the family members and pray fir fulk recovery for all 8 of them.The Lord isn’t done with them yet .Praise God.And to day Devil you didn’t get them Glory to God.

  21. Tim reagan on April 30th, 2017 10:25 pm

    And I also have some sympathy for the driver woke up in jail this morning and his life will never be the same.

  22. Jo burdett on April 30th, 2017 10:00 pm

    How sad for 8 student Naval Aviators to make it this far in the program And for some of them to be fighting for their lives, because of a drunk driver, instead of fighting for their country. Dear Lord, wrap these young sailors in your healing arms and guide the Dr.’s treating them so they can resume their flight training. And for the driver, that his victims and community forgive him for the harm he has done.

  23. Dan on April 30th, 2017 9:46 pm

    This is just another case of upside down Law Enforcement in Perdido Key.
    Much like the Mafia, the Sherriff Department offers off duty officers and patrol cars for hiring protection at $27/hr during spring break, special events, and Holidays to the individual Condo Complexes in Perdido Key. The Florabama also maintains a heavy presence of the very disruptive Flashing lights of these hired hands but without evidence of any paid Sherriff Department protection on Perdido Key Drive during peak hours of F/B operation at night to protect the innocent from those leaving the Florabama.
    1)What is the F/B doing to help the Perdido Key Environment and it’s citizens?
    2) Is anyone looking at the Crime Rate In Perdido Key?

  24. Billd on April 30th, 2017 9:41 pm

    Perdido Key wont be lighted because of the Beach mouse and nesting Turtles…..
    Shows you where humans stand.

  25. Mat on April 30th, 2017 9:12 pm

    Charles, Google this…”Dram Shop Law”

  26. Wesley on April 30th, 2017 8:48 pm

    You can forget it getting four laned. 90% of the road goes through the gulf island national seashore and you have the perdido beach mouse to deal with. You can’t even work on perdido key at night because of the beach mouse. Great idea. Much needed. Never gonna happen

  27. sue Byrd on April 30th, 2017 7:38 pm

    Two beers you could be legally drunk. Escambia County Deputies could arrest almost everyone driving leaving a bar with BAC over .08. Were those poor pedestrians drunk too?
    There is no mandatory time to spend in jail on a DUI. Depends on how long it takes for alcohol level to drop & how busy it is in the jail & how polite the drunk is. Hitting pedestrians or if they died doesn’t come into play. Even for cost of bail which is determined through a bail schedule or judge can set a monetary figure.

  28. smh on April 30th, 2017 7:04 pm

    @howie I guess the dark roads is an excuse for him being under the influence….

  29. John Mason-Smith on April 30th, 2017 6:48 pm

    It poorly lit because is below the CCR line and lighting is “turtle friendly”. The beach mouse also is protected and must be in dark areas that why the Perdido Key Drive paving was performed during the day instead of using flood lights.

    Charles – I hear the driver was westbound on PK Drive from Pcola not coming from the other way.

  30. Melinda on April 30th, 2017 6:30 pm

    Even though the individual was drunk we STILL need a well lit, multi-use path for all the visitors on Perdido Key. How can society care so much for a beach mouse then neglect the human race! COME ON KEEP EVERYONE SAFE ON PERDIDO. Give us a path to walk, jog and bike.

  31. anne 1of2 on April 30th, 2017 5:19 pm

    I lived in Orange Beach when there were no towers. As they built more and more, they put in street lights and widened the road. Cross the bridge and after the Flora-Bama the lighting slowly dies and the road narrows. I am totally with the comments on screw the mice. Let’s save the people instead. I cannot believe this guy was able to just post bond and walk! 8 people and he walked? Who was that judge?

  32. mick on April 30th, 2017 4:50 pm

    So he bonds out and with all the trouble he is in what do you think he’s going to do? Reach for the alcohol. This one needs to be prison bound where maybe all the drink he can get is toilet wine.

  33. Bren on April 30th, 2017 4:12 pm


  34. Godzilla on April 30th, 2017 3:59 pm

    I can’t believe I just read that the lighting along the road was the problem. Blame anything and everything but the human that hit eight people. That is asinine. He was drunk, he chose to drive, he is at fault. Period.

  35. Jan on April 30th, 2017 3:54 pm

    I can’t believe he’s out on bail. Bail should have been much higher! Now he can hurt or kill someone else.

  36. Paradise Beach on April 30th, 2017 3:43 pm

    Judge not lest you be judged. The accident is still under investigation. It doesn’t take a genius to know Perdido Key Drive is not safe for pedestrians; some fault may very well lie on those hit. Just MADD momma’s opinion.

  37. Howie on April 30th, 2017 3:20 pm

    Perdido Key Drive is not lighted and I won’t drive there after dark. It’s a beach roadway and many people walk along there. Of course, a drunk won’t think about all that. In Alabama, the road is well lit and easier to drive along. Just saying.

  38. Tj on April 30th, 2017 3:11 pm

    In response to Anne and everyone else…..the road has been repaved. In now way will it be a 4 lane any time soon if ever. Let’s hope the people recover and this idiot gets everything they can charge him with.

  39. Lynn on April 30th, 2017 3:07 pm

    Escambia County, Gulf Power AKA public utility. How many more people have to die because your too damn cheep to put up street lights? Tell the environmentalist, turtle and rat lovers to take a hike…down an unlit road.

  40. Suzie B. on April 30th, 2017 2:54 pm

    A very unfortunate situation. If this man isn’t from Pensacola, he may have more DUI records elsewhere. I hope everyone recovers. Very sad

  41. Charles on April 30th, 2017 2:26 pm

    If this man was coming from a Perdido Key area bar that was hosting an event then he AND the venue should held civilly liable.

    Here’s a question for the lawyers out there.
    Since the ECSO allows uniformed deputy sheriffs to provide private security for a bar’s event(s), is Escambia County also negligent and potentially liable for allowing intoxicated people to drive away from the bar?

  42. Gary on April 30th, 2017 2:21 pm

    This guy is a drunk thug. Bet he has a prior record. Another example of how alcohol, the drug of America, ruins people’s lives. LOCK HIM UP.

  43. Bill White on April 30th, 2017 2:13 pm

    Pat Welch is absolutely correct. We don’t need a “major corridor” through Perdido key. We need a 25MPH speed limit and a significant separate bike/walking path. A place where people do more than just pass by on the way to the flight demonstrations. We don’t need an Orange Beach environment,, we need something better!!!.
    Expand Sorrento and Blue angel!!! Jeez, my friends, that is the death trap during an evacuation

  44. Carolyn on April 30th, 2017 1:34 pm

    We will keep everyone who was hit in our prayers and pray for a full recovery of those critically injured.

  45. Teisha Clough on April 30th, 2017 1:29 pm

    First off it doesn’t matter if the road is a 2 lane highway or a 4 lane highway. The fact of the matter is that this guy hit 8 people because he was DRUNK. Yes, that road is poorly lit but he had no right to be behind the wheel of a moving vehicle after he had been drinking. I personally hope he gets what is coming to him and although the DUI laws are strict they need to be stricter.

  46. Taryn J. White on April 30th, 2017 1:10 pm

    Getting arrested for any DUI charge today is more serious than ever under the strict new laws. However a horrible DUI accident like this with injuries, will bring the maximum amount of penalties if convicted. Most of all hopefully these injured people will fully recover.

  47. Pat Welch on April 30th, 2017 12:37 pm

    We need sidewalks on Perdido Key. It’s dangerous, no matter what. Day or night. Stories about this kind of tragedy are rarely followed up on. If this had happened at Pensacola Beach, we would get hourly updates. But all the Chamber and commissioners are worried about is bringing more tourists here. They could care less about the safety of the tourists or residents. We don’t need four lanes. I have lived on the Key for 30 years. We need safe walkways on the Key. We need more deputies to patrol the roads when the Flora Bama has their events that inevitably puts hundreds of people on the road who are under the influence. But money talks louder than the loss of lives. It’s disgraceful.

  48. Betty on April 30th, 2017 12:22 pm

    Perfidious Key drive Needs to be 4 lanes and street lights. There is way Too Much traffic for just a 2 lane highway!

  49. ROBERT HINTON on April 30th, 2017 12:06 pm

    the road maybe poorly lit and narrow, but lets not forget this guy was drunk which certainly doesnt help the other conditions. Best Wishes to those injured.

  50. Charlotte on April 30th, 2017 12:04 pm

    Excuse me……it’s not the road that hit these people…..the guy was drunk. He shouldn’t have been allowed out of jail at all. Cause all he is going to do, more then likely, is drive drunk again. Praying for all involved in this horrible crash.

  51. Steven on April 30th, 2017 11:51 am

    If they four lane it it will be worst people just need to slow down.even more when there’s s event going on. #mullit toss.

  52. Chad on April 30th, 2017 11:41 am

    You can make all the excuses in the world but this crack head was drunk, I can’t believe they let him out already!

  53. anne 1of2 on April 30th, 2017 11:09 am

    People walk the side of Perdido Key Drive as if it is a sidewalk. It is hard to see pedestrians with the sun. That road takes some real concentration to drive on.

  54. Anne on April 30th, 2017 6:28 am

    Perdido Key Drive from the bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway to the Alabama line is one of the most dangerous, highly trafficed roads in the county.
    Coming from the Alabama side where the roads are multi-laned, wide shoulders, well lit into Florida, Escambia County where the road is two-laned, narrow, poorly marked is a disservice and danger to any driver, passenger or pedestrian.
    4-Lane Perdido Key Drive, it is a Major Corridor between Fla and Ala.