Former state Sen. Evers dies in crash

PENSACOLA, Fla. — Former Florida Senator Greg Evers was killed overnight and the wreckage from his car discovered Tuesday afternoon in Okaloosa County.

The former Florida senator died after authorities said he drove off of Griffith Mill Road in Okaloosa County near Baker sometime late Monday. Lt. Eddie Elmore of the Florida Highway Patrol was at the site of the car wreck late Tuesday.

"It appears he ran off the road after failing to negotiate a curve," Elmore said.

Evers' car was found submerged in a roadside creek on Tuesday afternoon. Officials said it appeared it was a one-vehicle crash and that Evers was the only person in the vehicle.

Evers, a folksy Baker strawberry farmer, served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2010, before serving in the Florida State Senate from 2010 to 2016. A stalwart Republican and a Panhandle fixture, Evers was a heavy supporter of Second Amendment rights and smaller government.

Evers was the former chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and continued advocating for criminal justice reform after his retirement from government. He supported a work release program in Santa Rosa County, and, in his most recent role as chief of Political Affairs for South Palafox Group, he spearheaded an effort to create affordable housing for ex-offenders in Pensacola.

In June 2016, when running in a hotly contested Republican primary for his Panhandle congressional seat, Evers was caught in the national spotlight when he offered an AR-15 rifle to a resident of Congressional District 1 who “liked” and “shared” Evers’ Facebook page.

The contest was just days after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in which a similar gun was used in the attack that killed 49 people and injured dozens of others at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

Evers frequently sponsored legislation backed by the National Rifle Association.

“With terrorism incidents on the rise, both at home and abroad, protecting our constitutional rights has never been more important,” Evers said in a prepared statement accompanying the announcement.

Most recently, Evers led the movement to keep the 34-foot tall cross in Bayview Park in Pensacola after the city was ordered in June to take the cross down following a federal lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the American Humanists Association. The organizations, on behalf of four Pensacola residents, asked that the cross be removed from the park because it violated the separation of church and state.

Evers formed The Historic Preservation Society Inc. days after the judgement in what he said was an effort to “preserve historic monuments that are threatened with destruction.” The non-profit group, of which Evers was chairman, offered to lease the land where the cross stands and thereby remove it from city ownership.

© 2017 USATODAY.COM


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