Fatal accident occurred late Monday night at the Penny Creek Bridge on Griffith Mill Road in Baker when Evers failed to negotiate a turn in the road. His truck was found Tuesday afternoon submerged in a roadside creek.

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UPDATE 6:55 A.M. WEDNESDAY

Florida Highway Patrol has released details on the single-vehicle crash that killed former longtime Florida legislator Greg Evers.

According to a FHP accident report, Evers was traveling north on Griffith Mill Road in a 2005 GMC pickup sometime Monday night when he failed to negotiate a right curve in the roadway and traveled across the southbound lanes at Penny Creek Bridge.

At that point, the pickup crashed through a guard rail and plunged into a creek where the vehicle was found submerged early Tuesday afternoon.

FHP noted in the report that alcohol test results are pending and the crash remains under investigation.

ORIGINAL STORY

BAKER — Condolences poured in from across Florida on Tuesday night as news spread of the sudden passing of popular longtime lawmaker Greg Evers.

Evers, a good ol' boy farmer turned politician who served 15 years in the Florida Legislature, was found dead early Tuesday afternoon.
 
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, the 62-year-old Evers was killed in a single-vehicle accident at the Penny Creek Bridge on Griffith Mill Road about 1.5 miles from his farm in Baker. The Evers family released a short statement near the end of the business day announcing the death and asking for prayers as they deal with the unexpected loss.
 

According to the FHP accident report, Evers was traveling north on Griffith Mill Road when he failed to negotiate a curve and went through a guardrail. His car then fell into a creek and sank. The report noted the accident is thought to have occurred sometime Monday night.

"It appears right now it was just a single-vehicle accident," FHP spokesman Eddie Elmore said.

Elmore added that the FHP will conduct a traffic homicide investigation that might reveal more details, including Evers' cause of death.

Gov. Rick Scott said he and his family were “heartbroken” after hearing the news.
 
“Senator Evers truly loved Florida and devoted his life to serving his community — not only on his family farm, but during 15 years representing the people of North Florida in the state House and Senate. He will be remembered and missed by all who knew him as the kind, hard-working farmer from Milton who tirelessly fought for Florida families.”
 
Evers was first elected to the state House of Representatives in 2001. He was elected to the state Senate in 2010 and served there until 2016. His Senate district included portions of Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties.   
 
“Be it farming or politics or just chit-chatting about anything, Greg was a stranger to nobody,” said Henry Kelley, a longtime friend.
 
Kelley, who got his start in politics as a leader of the tea party movement, said he became close friends with the then-House member after contacting Evers to advocate for a bill. Evers called to discuss the bill with him, and after thanking Kelley for the effort he’d put into research, said, “I agree with ya, but I’m gonna vote again’ ya.”
 
“I got to spend time with him at the Senate in Tallahassee and on a tractor in Baker,” Kelley said. “He was the same Greg both places.”
 
Kelley said he spent time with Evers on Monday. They discussed Evers possibly running for an Okaloosa County School Board seat.
 
Evers purchased 10 acres in Baker in the summer of 1990 and the next year opened a farm he called Akers of Strawberries, where he welcomed fruit fans from all over to come and pick a basketful of berries.
 
Evers was serving as the chairman of the Yellow River Soil and Conservation board and had been a past president of the Okaloosa County Farm Bureau in 2001 when Congressman Joe Scarborough of Pensacola announced he would be leaving his U.S. House seat.
 
The farmer jumped into the state House race to replace Jeff Miller, who left the Florida Legislature to pursue the open congressional seat.
 
Evers won his first race narrowly, but never looked back. His staunch conservatism, and in particular his advocacy for Second Amendment rights, made him hugely popular with rural, conservative constituents.
 
“He looked at issues through the eyes of the everyday person,” said fellow former state Sen. Don Gaetz. “When he spoke on the floor of the Senate or voted in committee, he always had in mind a farmer who had a problem or a small businessman who needed help.
 
“He and I disagreed sometimes, agreed most of the time, and he was always there as a friend,” Gaetz added. “This is a terrible loss for the Gaetz family. It’s a terrible shock.”
 
Evers competed unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for a U.S. House seat in 2016 against Matt Gaetz, Don’s son.  He was once again seeking to follow Miller into higher office.

Word of Evers' death spread quickly Tuesday afternoon, garnering sympathies from those who respected his efforts and influence representing Northwest Florida while in public office.

"Senator. Greg Evers was a dedicated public servant and an even better friend. He will be greatly missed. Go rest high on that mountain," state Sen. George Gainer posted on social media.

In a statement from the Okaloosa County Commission, Chairwoman Carolyn Ketchel sent thoughts on behalf of the county, saying, "Our sincere condolences go out to his family in the loss of Senator Greg Evers. He will be remembered for his tireless advocacy on behalf of the agricultural community during his years of public service as a member of both the Florida House and Senate. His friendly smile and laugh will be missed by all those who knew him."

Matt Gaetz, who represents Florida's First District, said in a statement: "I'm crushed by the news that former State Senator Greg Evers was killed in a car accident late last evening. Greg has been my friend for 16 years. Northwest Florida has lost a great champion and true public servant."
 
Florida Senate President Joe Negron also issued a statement.
 
“Greg passionately represented his district for many years in both the House and Senate,” Negron said. “He was especially dedicated to the men and women of his community who were serving or had served in the military, as well as our fellow Floridians across the state who serve as Corrections Officers.”
 
As chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee, Evers advocated for prison reform, even making surprise nighttime visits to the state’s prisons. Asked once if he was ever intimidated inside the prisons, Evers simply answered, “I’m a big ol’ boy.”
 
Legislation sponsored by Evers helped bring about needed reforms to the Florida Department of Corrections.
 
Jimmy Patronis, a Panama City resident and newly appointed state Chief Financial Officer, also sent his regards to Evers' family.

"I’ve known Greg for many years, and there’s no one who fought harder for his principles or for the people of Northwest Florida than Greg Evers," Patronis said. "He truly believed in the value of hard work, and nothing was more important to him than his family, public service, and his North Florida farm. We served in the Florida House together, and I’m proud to have worked alongside him and called him a friend. Tonight, I join Florida in mourning his sudden and tragic loss.

EVERS' PUBLIC SERVICE

Biographical information

•City of residence: Baker
•Occupation: Farmer/small businessman
•Children: Stephanie, Jennifer, Rob
•Education: Pensacola Junior College
•Born: June 16, 1955, Milton
•Religious affiliation: Baptist
•Recreational interest: meeting new people, raising strawberries, spending time with family and friends


Legislative service

•Elected to the Florida House on Oct. 16, 2001, re-elected to House and Senate subsequently
Other public service

•Yellow River Soil and Water Conservation District 1994-2001, chairman 1997
Affiliations

•Okaloosa County Farm Service Agency 1996-2001
•Okaloosa County Florida Farm Bureau, president 1998-2001
•Okaloosa County Overall Advisory Committee 1995-1997, 1998-2000


Highlights

•Christian Coalition Faith and Family Award 2006, 2004, 2003
•Florida Forestry Association, Legislator of the Year 2006
•Florida Association of Ag Educators, Legislator of the Year 2005
•Florida Farm Bureau, Outstanding Legislator Award 2004
•Northwest Florida Independent Pharmacist, Award of Recognition 2003
•Agriculturist of the Year 2002
•Okaloosa Walton College, Recognition of Contributions and Dedication to Higher Education 2002
•Small County Coalition, Recognition of Leadership 2002
•Okaloosa County Farm Family of the Year 1998
Source: myfloridahouse.gov

 

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