DESTIN — A man who volunteered at a homeless ministry was struck and killed by a vehicle on U. S. Highway 98 on Wednesday night.
Richard McIntosh, 53, had a strong presence in the homeless community. He had been a volunteer for the Blue Door Ministries at St. Andrew's By-the-Sea Episcopal Church for about six years. When he wasn't volunteering, he worked in the kitchen of the Red Door Saloon.
McIntosh and his girlfriend, Penny Barreira, had just left the Red Door Saloon about 9 p.m. when witnesses say he stepped into the outer eastbound lane of U.S. 98 and was hit by a motorist who could not avoid him, the Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office said in a news release.
Portions of the road were shut down for several hours as deputies investigated the scene.
McIntosh was an invaluable asset to the bicycle ministry at St. Andrew's, according to other volunteers and staff.
"He was the bike master," said Kathy McGee, the ministry's coordinator. "He could do anything with the bicycles."
Volunteer Ron Marro said McIntosh was "a rock in the bike shop" and helped provide thousands of bicycles to children in the community.
"He was a gruff and kind man," Marro said.
Barreira was there when the accident occurred. She said they had spent the night together, having dinner and some drinks — a well-deserved night off for McIntosh, who Barreira said had been working like crazy in the bike shop and in the bar's kitchen.
Barreira was at the bike shop a little more than 12 hours after the crash, grieving with others who knew him well.
"He loved what he did. He loved volunteering, loved building bikes for people," Barreira said through tears. "He was just a good guy. Really kind, really generous and funny. ... That's what made me fall in love with him."
The pair had been together for a year this month. They were both homeless when they met, but promised one another they would be off the streets within a year.
They started renting a house in Fort Walton Beach two months ago.
Barreira said McIntosh had a bad hip that often caused him to stumble when he walked. His hip gave out again Wednesday night and he stumbled into the road, she said.
McIntosh was the third pedestrian fatality in Destin so far this year.
In February, a 41-year-old Pensacola man was killed when he crossed U.S. 98 at Stahlman Avenue late at night. In March, a 47-year-old man was killed trying to cross the highway near Indian Bayou Trail.
Destin installed several lighted crosswalks along U.S. 98 in July 2016 after several pedestrian accidents.