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Sunday morning crash on SR 26 takes the life of a Chiefland man

A Chiefland man was driving a 1995 Lincoln Towncar on SR 26 near CR 337 at 3:40 a.m. Sunday morning, April 14. Toby Keith Long, 24 of Trenton, was driving a 2008 Chevy 2500 pickup truck westbound. The pickup truck was reported to have crossed the centerline and struck the Lincoln Towncar, reported Trooper Ganus of the Florida Highway Patrol. The Towncar upon impact rotated clockwise, and came to rest in the east bound lane facing west. The pickup truck left the roadway on the south shoulder and overturned where it landed in the ditch.
Gilchrist County emergency units responded to reports of a head on collision. Deputy Garth Frier was one of the first units to arrive on the scene. Deputy Frier quickly evaluated the situation and found the driver of one of the vehicles had sustained fatal injuries and the other driver was unable to exit his truck due to multiple injuries. Deputy Frier noticed flames coming from under the dash of the driver’s vehicle. Deputy Frier quickly used his fire extinguisher to knock down the flames and then removed the driver from the vehicle.
Gilchrist County Fire Rescue 2 and Trenton Public Safety Chief arrived on the scene and firefighter Ryan Cumbie and Paramedic Alexi Smith assisted Deputy Frier in moving the driver well away from the vehicle fire. Fire units then arrived on scene and fully extinguished the truck fire.
The driver of the truck was transported to UF Health Trauma Center in serious condition.
The driver of the Lincoln was pronounced deceased at the scene by Gilchrist County Fire Rescue.
Florida Highway Patrol is conducting a crash investigation and a homicide investigation will be conducted by Corporal Smith. Charges in this crash are pending the outcome of these investigations.
Trenton’s Chief of Public Safety, Matthew Rexroat, sent the following letter to both Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz and Gilchrist Fire Chief James Campbell. Chief Rexroat wrote, “I am writing this letter to inform you of the heroic acts of some personnel within your agencies. At approximately 3:46 a.m. this morning, units from the Gilchrist County Sheriffs Office, Gilchrist County Fire Rescue, and Trenton Department of Public Safety were dispatched to a head on MVC with persons trapped and a vehicle on fire. Personnel from the Sheriff’s Office and GCFR Medic 2 arrived on scene first. One of the deputies used a fire extinguisher to knock back the flames and then personnel from both agencies, at great risk to themselves, pulled the occupant out of the still burning vehicle. Their actions undoubtedly saved the life of the occupant of that vehicle. Tragically one life was lost, but due to the selfless and courageous actions of your personnel a second life was saved. The Sheriffs Office motto of “One Team, One Mission” was in full display on that scene. The Trenton Department of Public Safety and I are proud to work side by side with the fine men and women of both of your agencies. Job well done!”
Chief Campbell stated, “The men and women serving your community are true heroes each and every day. Thank you to each and every responder who participated in this heroic rescue. Your dedication and bravery has not gone unnoticed. I thank each and every one of you for the service you provided every day.”
Sheriff Bobby Schultz said, “The actions taken by Deputy Frier was nothing less than heroic. I have come to expect no less from Garth. I feel very lucky to work with Deputy Frier and the rest of GSCO and the first responders in the county, they are all heroes.”

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