Fiery fatal crash kills 5 on Tamiami Trail in Estero

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Five people are dead after a fiery crash involving a motorcycle and an SUV happened on US-41 in Estero. A 20-year-old man named Malachi Parker was identified as the victim driving the motorcycle.

The names of the four victims in the car haven’t been released yet. A man who knew Malachi well said he left church moments before the crash.

Scene of the fiery crash in Estero. CREDIT: WINK News

“I happened to glance over that way because you couldn’t miss it all the lights, and then a lady said ‘Don’t go that way there’s a really bad accident.’ I started walking towards my truck. And I turned and I looked and I noticed his bike was gone,” he said.

We have confirmed that the four people inside the SUV were women and all friends and neighbors at one point living in the Copperleaf Golf community.

Parker was an aviation student and an aspiring artist. He was leaving church Wednesday night on his motorcycle. When the people at the church waved goodbye, they didn’t know it at the time but that would be the last time they would ever see him.

“He touched more people than many people even realize,” said Malachi’s friend, Kevin Eddy, when speaking about Malachi.

Speaking in earnest, Eddy told WINK News what made Malachi special.

“He was a light in so many lives. Very bright light. And he will be missed,” said Eddy.

Scene of the deadly crash in Estero. CREDIT: WINK News

Eddy met Parker at church. It was also the last place Parker went before he died.

“I started walking towards my truck. And I turned and I looked and I noticed his bike was gone,” said Eddy.

Parker was leaving the church and was riding his motorcycle north on South Tamiami Trail. That’s when, according to FHP, the SUV turned in front of the motorcycle.

Parker crashed into the side of the SUV, sparking a deadly blaze at the scene.

Caught on camera from the ground and the air was Malachi’s helmet on the ground. That’s when Eddy texted his friend.

“After the message, I followed it up with ‘Hey, Message me back.’ Then I wrote ‘Please…’ And then I just wrote are you okay? And then I messaged one of the guys at the church. And I said… what time did Malachi leave last night? And he told me Malachi was in the accident. I’m 56 and he could hold a conversation with anyone in that house. And I was blessed to know him and I’m a better person,” said Eddy.

The general manager of the Copperleaf Golf community told WINK News exclusively that he’s known the four ladies for years and was hired by one of the woman’s husbands.

David Dore-Smith, the general manager, also told WINK News they lowered the flag to half-staff after hearing the news Thursday morning. Dore-Smith has known all of the women for more than 20 years, three of them still live in the neighborhood and the other used to call the community home.

Dore-Smith told WINK News she was in town visiting her three friends and the neighborhood as she always does this time of year.

Not only did that woman’s husband hire him, but the couple was instrumental in establishing the club and the community. He said Copperleaf united the friends and that they loved the neighborhood and each other.

Dore-Smith got to catch up with all four friends at a neighborhood event this week and will always remember them that way.

“I was fortunate enough to sit with them all on Monday at a table just sharing stories and I’ll never forget it. It’s one of my fond memories that I’ll always keep,” said Dore-Smith. “The friendship amongst the four — there was a reason that they were together. They had just been out socializing at a bingo event, they had been at a boat event the day before and they were just amazing friends who respected each other and cared for each other the whole time.”

The flag will remain at half-staff for the time being. WINK News was told the hugs on Thursday have been raw and emotional.

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