Driver crashes, runs; half-dozen passengers in front, back and trunk fly out of Mercedes

Driver crashes, runs; half-dozen passengers in front, back and trunk fly out of Mercedes

(As originally published, Mon, April 11th 2022, 5:35 AM EDT)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — A half-dozen young people were taken to hospitals after a wild, scary ride ended with a horrific crash on S. Flagler Drive in West Palm Beach.

Now, the driver who apparently walked away from his friends and the mess is facing more than a dozen criminal charges.

It happened almost a year ago, but the driver — Jackson Hanson, who was 21 then and is 22 now — was just arrested Thursday.

West Palm Beach police say Jackson Hanson was driving his six friends back from dinner in his black Mercedes Benz SUV on Saturday, May 29, 2021.

The crash happened after 10:30 p.m. and the victims’ ages are not in the arrest report. They are thought to be in their early 20s since police wrote several told them they’d gone to school together for years. Each is identified simply as male or female.

The first officer to arrive at the scene near Puritan Road reported finding a young woman “laying next to a tree and appeared to have been ejected from the vehicle.” She was turned over to paramedics.

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The officer found a second young woman “who was laying down in the grass. [She] appeared to have a bad facial laceration and seemed to be in an altered state.”

Then, a young man approached the officer and “stated he was in the rear seat to the far right and after the collision neither of the females [mentioned above, sitting in his row, next to him] were in the car which confirmed [the second young woman] was also ejected from the vehicle.”

The officer met up with a third young woman “who stated she was sitting in the front passenger seat.

“[The officer] was approached by a male who stated he was in the trunk of the vehicle. [He] pointed over to another male and stated he was in the trunk with him.”

Now, a second police officer had arrived and met up with the young man from the back seat who said, “‘The guy driving was driving way too fast being a d_____, we told him to slow down and he wouldn’t and you know what happens.’ When asked who was driving [he] stated ‘he’s gone, we know his name, we know his name it’s fine.’”

The officer met a young woman “and asked her who was driving. She answered my friend Jackson but I don’t know where he is right now, he left. She stated he left on foot. [She] stated he was wearing a green and white shirt and had blonde hair. [She] provided a last name of Hanson for the driver. Once [she] walked away to talk on the phone [the man from the back seat] approached [this officer] and told him the driver’s last name was Hanson. [This officer] asked [him] where they were coming from and he stated Cafe Sapori. [The officer] made contact with [the second young man from the truck] who also stated Jackson Hanson was the driver of the vehicle.”

A third officer showed up and spoke to a witness who was riding his bicycle on the west shoulder of Flagler Drive, heading south. ”[The witness] stated the black SUV flew by him at what he thought was 80 to 90 miles per hour. He said thankfully they were in the middle of the road instead of his side. [The witness] stated he was a block away from where the SUV came to rest when they passed him. He stated the SUV hit something on the west side of the road which made it go to the east side of the road and hit the tree. [He] then stated a young white male was seen running south on Flagler. [He] stated the male was possibly wearing red but it was hard to see from a distance.”

Next, this officer “made contact with [a second witness] who stated he was north of the crash scene waiting to turn onto South Flagler Drive when he observed the SUV coming from the north. [He] stated the vehicle appeared to be traveling at least 70 miles per hour. After the vehicle passed he turned on to South Flagler Drive and drove the speed limit and drove up onto the crash scene. He stated he did not witness the collision.”

Now to the hospital, where authorities spoke to each victim. The interviews were recorded and what they said was summarized in the arrest report. At the end of each interview, the report said each victim identified a picture of Hanson, said he was the driver, and then printed their name at the top of the picture, and signed and dated it at the bottom.

Driver crashes, runs; half-dozen passengers in front, back and trunk fly out of Mercedes
Jackson Hanson faces 13 charges for reckless driving and leaving his friends after crashing, April 6, 2022. (Palm Beach Co. Sheriff’s Office)

An investigator made contact with one of the young man in ER bed #2. “[He] stated they left Cafe Sapori and he got into the trunk sitting on the left side. He stated he remembered being in the trunk and driving pretty fast. He stated he remembered being at a stop sign and making a hard right before losing control. He stated he remembered people telling him to slow down. When [the investigator] asked who was driving he stated Jackson Hanson.”

Then the investigator met one of the young women from the back seat in trauma room #3. “[She] stated they went to Cafe Sapori for dinner then got into Jackson Hanson’s car because he was going to drop off his car at home, then Uber to Cucina. She stated, ‘he was going very very very very fast and we told him to stop.’ [She] continued saying he was going really fast around the corner and she knew he was going to hit the curb. She stated he hit the curb then they flipped and she just remembered being outside on the grass. [She] stated she thought she was seated in the back left but definitely in the back seat.”

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Next, the investigator spoke with the other young man from the trunk who was in ER bed #1. “[He] stated they were at Cafe Sapori. [He] stated when they were leaving he was in the trunk of the vehicle and Jackson Hanson was driving. The car lost control, spun out and hit a tree.”

The next day, a fourth officer — the one who compiled the information and signed the arrest report — went to the hospital and made contact with the other young woman from the back seat. “[She] stated prior to the crash they were at Cafe Sapori and got there around 8:15 p.m. [She] stated when they got into the Mercedes she was in the back seat behind the driver. I asked her who was driving the vehicle when they left the cafe and she stated Jackson. I asked her how she knew Jackson and she stated he has been her family friend since kindergarten, grew up together, and went to school together. I asked if she remembered the route that was taken and she stated they went left onto Southern [Boulevard], then right onto Washington Road then down onto Flagler. She stated he was going really fast and all of us were screaming at him to slow down. She said Jackson stated its alright guys. [She] said someone in the car said you are literally going 80 miles per hour slow down. She said he then turned the wheel and the car lost control and she just remembered getting a straight impact then she woke up on the dirt.” Her father was in her hospital room “and printed his and her name at the top of the photo then signed his name and dated it at the bottom. [This victim] was not able to sign due to her injuries.”

Then, the officer went to the surgical waiting room and made contact with the young woman from the front passenger seat. “[She] stated her father dropped her [the young man from the back seat] off at Cafe Sapori around 8:30 p.m. She said they left around 10 p.m. [She] stated once they got into the car she was in the front seat. I asked who got into the driver seat and she stated Jackson. When asked about the route that was taken she stated they pulled out of Cafe Sapori, took a left and took a right. They continued to the roundabout then to Flagler where they turned right. She stated he was going very fast around the roundabout but did not lose control. She stated he was going really fast down Flagler. She saw the biker [the first witness] and thought are we going to hit him but the vehicle was moving so fast next thing she knew they were out of control. She stated everyone was telling him to slow down. Once the car stopped she unbuckled herself and felt blood coming from her head and realized she was not ok. I asked her if she saw Jackson get out of the car and she said yes. I asked if he at any time said he was sorry or anything to them. [She] stated he said, ‘S___ guys I’m really sorry, is everyone alright?’ He then opened the door and she asked him where he was going and she stated she thought he said he was coming back and then she saw him run. I asked [her] in her opinion if she thought the vehicle was traveling above the speed limit. She stated, ‘Very well above the speed limit without absolute question.’ I asked if he was asked to slow down and she stated yes he was asked to slow down and he did not respond to the request.”

The following day, two days after the crash, this fourth officer went to the Palm Beach Police Department and met the young man from the back seat. “He stated they arrived at Cafe Sapori around 8:30 or 9. Once the dinner was done they retrieved the vehicle from valet at which point he got into the rear seat behind the passenger. [He] stated Jackson Hanson got in the driver seat. He stated the drive was fast and reckless. He stated they went around the roundabout very fast and he was surprised he didn’t flip over, which is when everyone got worried. He said he was going so fast they were screaming at him to slow down and were all frightened. [He] stated it felt like every time someone said slow down he would go faster. [He] continued to say there was a slight bend in the road in the vehicle started to lose traction and overcorrected the vehicle and then he hit the tree. [He] stated after the collision Jackson got out of the car, looked at him and screamed don’t call the police and left.”

On Tuesday, June 1, the officer went to a lawyer’s office and did not get a statement from Hanson. Instead, he wrote Hanson allowed a cheek swab of his DNA and search of the car, including downloading the event data recorder.

Then, it was off to “the West Palm Beach Fire Department at the Traffic Homicide Evidence Lot. They helped remove the ACM (airbag control module) from the vehicle. Once [a second investigator] and I returned to headquarters, [the investigator] performed a bench direct to module upload and uploaded the information from the ACM. Four records were recorded all in the same ignition cycle of 11,157.”

The first event was recorded as a frontal impact. The data indicated 3.5 to 5.0 seconds before impact, the vehicle is traveling at 99 mph and there was no break activation. From 3.0 to 2.5 seconds before impact, there is no accelerator or brake activation bringing the vehicle from 98 then 96 mph. From 2.0 to 1.5 seconds, the vehicle goes to down to 94 and then 93 mph. From 1.0 seconds to impact, the brake is engaged. This brings the vehicle from 82 mph to 75 mph to 68 mph where it records the frontal impact event.

The second event recorded the same exact information.

The third event recorded similar information, except an additional half-second “before this event was recorded where the brake is activated and the speed is down to 62 mph.”

“The fourth event was recorded as a rollover,” according to the arrest report. “This event is the last impact where the left side impacted the palm tree. This recording showed the same information as the prior events however a side impact speed of 56 mph with no acceleration input but brake activation. It should be noted the highest estimated speed of the vehicle is 99 mph and the lowest estimated speed is 56 mph. The posted speed limit along South Flagler Drive from Worth Court to the location of the crash is 25 mph. This puts the vehicle anywhere from 74 mph to 31 mph over the speed limit.”

Finally, the officer visited the witnesses. Their recorded stories matched what they said on the night of the crash.

And last, in February of this year, he got medical records from the hospital.

For the young woman who was the front passenger, there was no record, which meant she was not treated at the hospital.

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One of the young women in the back seat “sustained a large degloving laceration to the lower right leg, a fracture to the left side of the pelvis, a vertical shear fracture to the left sacrum located in the lower lumbar spine, and a large hematoma (bruise) to the right scalp.”

The other young woman in the back seat “sustained T1 and C1 spinal fractures, a left scapula fracture, a left clavicle fracture, a rib fracture, and lacerations to the chin and left shoulder.”

There was no record for the young man with them in the back seat.

One of the young men in the trunk “sustained multiple facial lacerations and contusions to the head and chest wall.”

It should be noted the front passenger “unbuckled herself” when the SUV stopped but otherwise, nothing about a seat belt appeared in the arrest report.

Jackson Hanson faces 13 criminal charges.

Driver crashes, runs; half-dozen passengers in front, back and trunk fly out of Mercedes
Jackson Hanson faces 13 charges for reckless driving and leaving his friends after crashing, April 6, 2022. (Palm Beach Co. Sheriff’s Office)

There are three counts of leaving the scene of a crash involving serious bodily injury, which is a second-degree felony.

There are three counts of leaving the scene of a crash involving injury, which is a third-degree felony.

There are three counts of reckless driving causing serious bodily injury, which is a third-degree felony.

There are three counts of reckless driving causing injury to property or person, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

And there is one count of leaving the scene of a crash involving damage, which is a second-degree misdemeanor.

Hanson was booked at 6:30, Thursday evening, and released from jail at 3 p.m. Friday.

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