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Alleged drunk driver hits 8 cars, damages property at St. Augustine's Bayfront Inn

WTLV-TV Jacksonville logo WTLV-TV Jacksonville 2/16/2019 WTLV Staff, Troy Kless

A man was arrested and charged with DUI and property damage after a vehicle crashed into at least eight others at The Bayfront Inn in St. Augustine overnight.

The St. Augustine Police Department said Stephen Carl Nelson, 50, was the only person in the truck that initiated the crash. The other cars involved were parked and vacant. No one was injured. Nelson was jailed on 8:06 a.m. and his bond has been set at $20,000.

Stephen Carl Nelson - struck Bayfront Inn © SJCSO Stephen Carl Nelson - struck Bayfront Inn

“We were woken up by a big boom, it sounded like it was a bomb,” said witness Joyce Stoeberl.

What Stoeberl saw next was astonishing.

“I could see that our car had moved and it was right up against for the building. I guess for us it was really upsetting," she said.

Stoeberl and her husband Leo drove their Honda CR-V from New York to Florida for a month-long vacation.

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She’s upset that the alleged drunk driver tore through the parking lot of the Bayfront Inn, hitting eight cars, and one hotel room.

A couple staying at the Bayfront Inn not only woke up to their hotel room wall busted, but they had a busted taillight.

“I’m very glad it [the car] wasn’t in the room, the building did its job,” said Randall Paschke, who was sleeping four feet from the wall that stopped the car.

According to the Bayfront Inn manager, Nelson hit the Honda first, backed out and hit other cars and the walls near a handicapped parking spot before he stopped.

“I’m extremely upset," the manager told First Coast News. "I’m upset because my entire hotel which was full last night, all of my guests were disturbed because of this incident.”

While people are reeling from this crash, Stoeberl is thankful for her safety, the safety of the hotel and its guests.

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“It’s a headache they [the hotel] didn’t need either," Stoeberl said, "but people expressed in the end, thank God no one was hurt. Again, it's just cars and things, which can be replaced."

The Bayfront Inn is located in Downtown St. Augustine at 138 Avenida Menendez, a couple blocks south of the Bridge of Lions. 

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