Ivan James Sandquist, age 33, was killed in a freak accident on the morning of March 3, 2014. The Williston Police Department (WPD) reported that they received a report of two men being injured while working at Absolute Auto body, located at 104 NW 10th Ave. Upon investigation, it was discovered that Patrick Woodard of Gainesville, who repairs cars at an auto shop in the Raleigh area of Levy County, was driving a 1999 Toyota northbound on US-41. As the vehicle approached Absolute Auto Body, the left front tire broke free from the vehicle and traveled north on the west shoulder of the highway. The tire struck a driveway apron, sending it airborne. The tire jumped over a six-foot chain link fence, where it then struck Sandquist, killing him instantly. After striking Sandquist, the tire struck the friend he was standing and talking to, James E. Fender, 45, the owner of the Absolute Auto Body Shop. Fender sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to Shands Hospital in Gainesville.
Williston Police Chief Dennis Strow said the incident was being investigated, and that he asked for help from the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP). An FHP homicide investigator will be assisting in trying to figure out what happened. “We asked for help from FHP because they have so much experience in these kinds of things.” They hope to determine if the cause of the accident was a speed factor or a mechanical problem.
Chief Strow added that the vehicle, which Woodard had been driving at the time of the incident, had been taken to Woodard (since he works at an auto body shop) to be checked out. He said that Woodard had not done anything to the car, including the wheel, which came off of the vehicle, prior to taking it for a test drive.
Strow said the tire did not explode and was intact on the wheel.
A memorial was held for James Sandquist at Knoff Funeral Home in Williston at 4 p.m., Thursday, March 6, 2014.
His mother requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the American Diabetes or the American Heart Association.