Council building under reconstruction after fatal car accident

Council building undergoes reconstruction after car accident damages some facilities


Photo by Hannah Murray

Workers repairing and improving damaged facilities.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— This week, the Council Building saw the dawn of a new and promising day.

As of Tuesday, September 4th, the Council Building is undergoing reconstruction after a fatal collision  occured over the summer. The rebuilding includes a few faculty offices, as well as a conference room.

Angel Hurtado, the project manager, says that he expects the reconstruction to take three to four weeks.

“We started on a short week, because of the holiday,” he said. “But I’d say about three and a half weeks or so, maybe.”

The damage was caused by a  vehicle-into-building collision that took place on July 14, at 1:29 a.m.

According to an email sent out by Kevin Bennett, the director of campus security, a car sped through the main gate of campus and crashed with the east side of the Council Building.

The driver was identified as Kylie Smith, 31, who was pronounced dead at the scene. The only passenger in the vehicle sustained minor injuries and recovered in the hospital.

“It was a shock to all of us that it happened,” said Dennis Stouse, a professor who taught classes in the building over the summer. “It’s a sad and terrible thing that someone actually perished here in the building.”

Although tragic, the accident didn’t affect classes that took place over the summer.

“I was the only one teaching, but it didn’t disrupt our classes,” said Stouse. “And the restoration staff did a really efficient job.”

Despite the damage, only one professor, Carole Barnett, had her office temporarily moved.

“When we came back, I still had access to my office,” said Stouse. “But it was then in the process of being cleaned up. And of course, they were concerned about things like if there was any structural damage, that could be a problem. Which, I guess there wasn’t. We’ve all just worked around it. But it’s been the biggest inconvenience for Dr. Barnett.”

As for the building, the hope, for both faculty and those working on the project, is for an efficient reconstruction.

“I hope it goes smoothly,” said Hurtado. “I hope we do not fall behind and that we pass the inspections.”

While the situation is tragic, it seems that JU has had success at picking up the pieces and building something new.

“We’ve coped pretty well,” said Stouse. “Again, it’s just sad that a person lost their life here.”