By Adam Linhardt
As authorities nationwide warn motorists of the dangers of driving while texting, Florida Keys law enforcement officers add a new caution: Don't try to shave your privates, either.
Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a two-vehicle crash Tuesday at Mile Marker 21 on Cudjoe Key was caused by a 37-year-old woman driver who was shaving her bikini area while her ex-husband took the wheel from the passenger seat.
"She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit," Trooper Gary Dunick said. "If I wasn't there, I wouldn't have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot ... who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, 'Nothing will ever beat this.' Well, this takes it."
If that weren't enough, Megan Mariah Barnes was not supposed to be driving and her 1995 Ford Thunderbird was not supposed to be on the road.
The day before the wreck, Barnes was convicted in an Upper Keys court of DUI with a prior and driving with a suspended license, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne. Barnes was ordered to impound her car, and her driver's license was revoked for five years, after which time she must have a Breathalyzer ignition interlock device on any vehicle she drives, Dunne said. Barnes also was sentenced to nine months' probation.
Barnes and Charles Judy were southbound in her Thunderbird at 11 a.m. when they slammed into the back of a 2006 Chevrolet pickup driven by David Schoff of Palm Bay. His passengers were a man and two women; the latter were treated for minor injuries at Lower Keys Medical Center, FHP spokesman Alex Annunziato said.
Schoff had slowed to about 5 mph to make a turn when the Thunderbird hit him, traveling about 45 mph, which was within the speed limit, Dunick said.
Barnes allegedly drove another half-mile, then switched seats with Judy, who allegedly claimed to be driving, Annunziato said.
"She jumps in the back seat and he moves over," Dunick said. "It was like the old comedy bit, 'Who's on first?' "
Burns on Judy's chest from the passenger-side airbag deploying belied their story, Dunick said. The airbag in the steering wheel did not deploy, he said.
Troopers charged Barnes with driving with a revoked license, reckless driving, leaving the scene of a wreck with injuries and driving with no insurance. Judy was not charged.
Barnes faces a maximum of a year in jail if found guilty of violating her probation due to the wreck, Dunne said.
"My phone has been ringing off the hook all day, and I know there's a funny side to this, but it's also deadly serious. This is a scary road and a lot of bad wrecks are caused by dumb stuff like this," Dunick said. "It is unbelievable. I'm really starting to believe this stuff only happens in the Keys."
5 March 2010 — Return to cover.