High-speed Homer crash kills 4

Driver was warned by police not to speed less than an hour before accident

Posted: Tuesday, July 26, 2005

A high-speed crash on Kachemak Drive in Homer killed four Homer residents Sunday afternoon. All four were pronounced dead at the scene.

Killed in the single-car accident was the driver, John Wayne Blackshear-Walker, 24, and his passengers, Rebecca J. Atwater, 21, Toni Lou Gregoire, 19, and Randall M. Walstrand, 17.

Blackshear-Walker was driving a red 1990 Toyota Corolla at about 5:30 p.m. on Kachemak Drive from the Homer Spit. He was heading toward East End Road when the car went into the ditch, hit a driveway and flipped over, landing on its roof. Gregoire and Atwater were ejected from the car.

Witnesses said the car was going extremely fast, said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl.

Police have not determined the Toyota's exact speed, but Robl said he estimates Blackshear-Walker was driving at least 60 mph in a 35 mph zone.

"This was a very reckless driving incident at a high rate of speed, and it killed four people," Robl said.

Homer Police Officer Bill Geragotelis had contacted Blackshear-Walker in the Toyota at a Pioneer Avenue parking lot about 40 minutes earlier. Police had received a report of a driver in a red Toyota driving recklessly and speeding at Bishop's Beach, a popular beach in the Old Town area of Homer.

Geragotelis spoke with Blackshear-Walker and warned him not to speed.

Robl said police did not have enough evidence to cite Blackshear-Walker for speeding or reckless driving. Geragotelis did not see any signs of drinking in the car or from the driver, such as open liquor cans and bottles or an odor of alcohol, Robl said.

Geragotelis was the first officer at the scene of the accident.

Two ambulance crews and a rescue crew responded, said Homer Fire Chief Bob Painter. Firefighters also made sure leaked gas did not catch on fire.

Robl said it did not appear anyone wore seat belts, but cautioned that an accident that severe could cause seat belts to fail. Painter said wearing seat belts might have helped save the back seat passengers.

An autopsy is being done on Blackshear-Walker. Robl said toxicology results are not complete for Blackshear-Walker, and it is unknown if alcohol or drugs were involved, he said.

Monday afternoon, several friends of the victims went to the accident scene. Some people put down bouquets of flowers along the edge of trampled brush where the car crashed.

"They were all good friends of mine, and I'm going to miss them," said one friend, Matt Carroll.

No funeral services for the victims have been announced.

"All we can think of in a case like this is the family of the victims," Robl said. "Our hearts and prayers go out to them."

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