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Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Struggles Continue for Palmetto Man Seriously Injured by Impaired Wrong Way Driver on the Skyway Bridge in December

Struggles Continue for Palmetto Man Seriously Injured by Impaired Wrong Way Driver on the Skyway Bridge in December

  • Wrong way crash occurred on December 30, 2016
  • Jon Mitchell was driving home from work when struck by a wrong way driver
  • Mitchell suffered serious injuries along with permanent disfigurement
  • Deceased wrong way driver Shontel Chase was impaired with a blood alcohol concentration over twice the legal limit
  • A Gofundme account was setup for Jon Mitchell at the following link. https://www.gofundme.com/jon-mitchell

The day began like any other for 58 year old Jon Mitchell who resides in Palmetto, Florida. Throughout the day he operated a tree service business and at night worked as a disc jockey.

During the early morning hours of Friday, December 30, 2016 that his life was changed forever. He was driving his 2000 GMC Sierra pickup truck home from work after being a DJ for an event.

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At about 3:40 a.m. Mitchell was traveling southbound over the Skyway Bridge and was struck by an impaired wrong-way driver who was traveling northbound in the southbound lanes of the roadway. He swerved to the right trying his best to avoid the crash but the driver of the oncoming vehicle steered to the left, leading to a head on collision.

Mitchell was transported to Blake Medical Center with critical injuries as a result of the crash that closed the interstate for almost 5 hours.

IONTB was able to contact Jon Mitchell and his fiancée, Debra, to get an exclusive update on his status. Jon spent over 2 months in the hospital including almost 2 ½ weeks in intensive care undergoing 12 surgeries.

Soon after the crash, surgeons needed to perform a below the knee amputation also losing full use of his left arm and hand. These injuries made it impossible for him to continue working the jobs that helped pay his bills.

He cannot even begin to fathom the extensive quantity of medical bills that have been received. He states that many have been paid by Florida Medicaid but they will not pay for his rehabilitation. Meetings with a couple lawyers have not been productive but yet he continues to take it day by day with the support of Debra.

Debra and Jon have been together for over 7 years but Debra stated, “this year has been extremely difficult.” This difficulty was compounded by his 56th birthday and Valentine’s Day occurring while he was in the hospital with Debra trying to support him every step of the way. She also recalls spending Easter Day with him in the rehab center.

The wrong-way driver was identified as 29 year-old Shontel Chase of New Port Richey, Florida. Chase died at the scene of the crash which left her severely damaged 2005 Ford Focus partially resting on the bridge retaining wall.

According to FHP, she was also not wearing her seat belt as she traveled northbound in the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Video of Shontel Chase’s vehicle bypassing the south toll booth of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge traveling in the wrong lanes of traffic shortly before the crash (her vehicle is seen on the video’s right side)

Photograph of Shontel Chase (Source: Facebook)

IONTB has obtained the report from the District Twelve Medical Examiner’s Office in Sarasota, Florida.

The report documents that Chase’s Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) was .186.  In Florida, the presumption of impairment applies when the BAC is over .08.  The drug screen also showed the presence of cannabinoids, the main chemical compound found in marijuana.

Previously, Chase was charged with a DUI in Hillsborough County in January 2010.  She plead guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was placed on probation which included a community service requirement.

Debra was never told that Chase was impaired by alcohol and states they never had any contact with Chase’s family. “No apology, no nothing,” said Debra, referring to Chase’s family members.

It was only a few days ago that Jon fell and broke his hip above the same area where his lower leg was amputated.  He stated that his surgery to place a rod into his leg is scheduled early next week.

In the meantime, Debra stands by his side helping to support him physically, financially and emotionally while Jon tries to cope with this tragic and preventable incident.

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