A UF professor died following a crash on West University Avenue Monday afternoon.
Charles Joseph Kibert, a 73-year-old professor in the M.E. Rinker, Sr. School of Construction Management and Director of the Powell Center for Construction and Environment, was involved in the crash, according to police records. UF College of Design, Construction and Planning posted a message on Facebook Tuesday mourning the loss of the professor.
“Over more than three decades, Charles has provided leading edge research and instructional excellence to hundreds of Rinker students,” Rinker School Director Robert Cox wrote in the message. “His impact on us all will never be forgotten, nor will it fade. He was a class act that made everyone around him a better person.”
Gainesville Police Department spokesperson Graham Glover said it appears as though a medical incident caused the driver to swerve off the road and crash.
Around 3:18 p.m. on Monday, Gainesville Police Department got a call that a BMW sedan driving eastbound on West University Avenue swerved off the road and flipped onto its side near Northwest 28th Street, Glover said. The car hit a pedestrian and snapped a utility pole in the process.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, Glover said. The official cause of death was unknown as of Tuesday evening, Glover said. GPD is investigating the incident.
Police officers at the scene said the pedestrian sustained minor injuries. One GPD officer present said the pedestrian was in the roadway when they were hit but managed to jump into the forest area on the side of the road to avoid being struck head on. Glover said he does not believe the pedestrian was hospitalized.
Glover said police were at the scene quickly because of the increased police presence between 34th Street to 13th Street as part of Gator STEP, a traffic safety enforcement program that began last week in response to the fatal crash that killed 18-year-old Sophia Lambert less than two miles east on West University Avenue.
Jordyn Thoreson, an 18-year-old UF advertising freshman who had just gotten lunch after a doctor’s appointment, witnessed the crash Monday — which took all of about 10 seconds, she said.
Thoreson said she slammed on her brakes because the car in front of her stopped abruptly.
“A couple seconds later this car comes barreling out of nowhere,” she said.
Thoreson said she was driving toward UF’s campus and no cars were driving on the opposite side of the road when the BMW suddenly crossed all the lanes of traffic, ended up on the other side of the road, hit a tree and flipped several times.
She then spotted a man who was lying on the sidewalk, she said.
“It all happened really fast,” she said. “It was wild.”
To Thoreson, University Avenue is a dangerous road to be on as of late. The crash was so surreal, she said, she thought she was imagining it.
‘If the car hadn’t slammed on its breaks in front of me, I’m not sure where I would’ve been in relation to the other car,” she said. “I’m glad I was stopped.”
John Williams, a 24-year-old lab technician at the UF College of Dentistry, said he was walking home from work when he noticed the police cars. He said he hadn’t heard anything about the crash, but he lives about a block away.
Williams felt concerned when he saw the power line was down and said he was upset to hear of another crash.
“It’s concerning, especially because I live around here and I walk down here pretty much everyday,” Williams said. “I definitely don't feel safe, I'm a pedestrian most of the time.”
Julia Cooper contributed to this report.
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Asta Hemenway is a third-year senior majoring in Journalism. Born in Tallahassee, she grew up Senegalese American. When she’s not writing or doing school, she loves watching Netflix and Tiktok in her spare time.
Anna Wilder is a second-year journalism major and the criminal justice reporter. She's from Melbourne, Florida, and she enjoys being outdoors or playing the viola when she's not writing.