Records: Driver in Flagler fatality found bleeding woman in ditch, still waited to make report
BY FRANK FERNANDEZ, STAFF WRITER
Jamesine Fischer heard a “thud” while driving, walked over to a bleeding woman sprawled near the Palm Coast road and turned her head so she could breathe easier — yet it was still nearly 12 hours before she reported being involved in an accident.
Those actions came to light in records released Wednesday by the State Attorney’s Office, two days after Fischer — the wife of Flagler County School Board member John Fischer — was charged with leaving the scene of a crash involving death, a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Fischer was driving her PT Cruiser about 6 p.m. Nov. 10 when it struck Francoise Pecqueur as she walked her dog along Columbia Lane near Colechester lane, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. The 76-year-old Pecqueur died two days later.
Another motorist called 9-1-1, alerting dispatchers to the injured woman.
It was about 11 1/2 hours before the Fischers called 9-1-1. In a tape of that call released Wednesday, John Fischer told a dispatcher his wife “thinks” she had an accident. Then his wife told the dispatcher what happened.
“I was driving down and I heard a thud, and I thought I hit a dog,” she said. “And then, when I got out of the car, I pulled over, and, when I got out of the car, there was a lady laying there. And I thought she had fallen and the dog was free and I had hit the dog and the (ambulance) came and, you know, uh, took care of her.”
“Did you tell them that you thought that you may have hit her?” the dispatcher asked.
“I didn’t realize it until afterward,” Fischer said, “because I was going to a neighbor’s house afterward down the road and when I pulled into the driveway and got out of the car that was the first time that I noticed that my windshield had shattered.”
More details emerged as part of a report prepared by Fischer’s defense attorney, Steve Alexander. In that report, also released Wednesday, Fischer told investigator Tom Simpson she thought the woman on the side of the road had fallen.
“She states she called out words to the effect are you all right?” Simpson wrote in the report. “Getting no response she next kneeled down and shook the female lying on the ground. Still she did not receive any response. She said she could see what she believed to be blood coming from the right side of the subject’s mouth. She said she turned the subject’s head to the right in an effort to preclude any potential breathing problems.”
Fischer said she was driving to friend Betty Bifano’s house the night of the accident, according to the interview. Fischer said it was about 6 p.m. and it was dark so she had her headlights on. She estimated her speed at no greater than 30 mph as she turned onto Columbia Lane.
“She heard something strike her vehicle,” according to the report. “She said as she made the turn onto Columbia Lane she saw no person adjacent to the right of the roadway and had no idea what had made the noise.”
Fischer continued north for about 30 or 40 feet and pulled off on the east side of Columbia Lane on the northern side of a circular driveway at 4 Columbia Lane, the report states. She walked to the southern part of the driveway. That’s when she saw a body next to the driveway’s culvert.
The fatal accident has included some unusual twists. The Sheriff’s Office did not send a deputy until nearly six hours later because dispatchers initially believed the woman had fallen.
Before Fischer spoke to dispatch, her husband called Flagler County Sheriff Don Fleming, who has described John Fischer as a friend. Fleming said in a prior interview and in a letter to The News-Journal that John Fischer told him his wife had been in an accident and thought she hit an animal. Fleming said he told Fischer to report the accident.
Fleming said he received the call from John Fischer about 5:30 a.m. Nov. 11 just before the Fischers called dispatch to report the accident.
Fleming has refused to release his personal phone records, claming they are exempt from the state’s open records law. Jon Kaney, general counsel for the First Amendment Foundation, disagrees. Kaney said the call between Fleming and Fischer is a public record because it deals with official business.
On Tuesday, Pecqueur’s daughter, Catherine Vyvyan, called on Fleming to release the phone records.