Merritt Island man charged in fatal crash on New Year’s Eve

COCOA BEACH, Fla. — A Merritt Island man has been arrested for his role in a deadly crash on New Year’s Eve.


Just after 9 p.m. on Dec. 31, officers with the Cocoa Beach Police Department responded to a report of a crash with multiple injuries on West Cocoa Beach Causeway, just west of Bicentennial Park.

According to the police department, the officers arrived to find a crash involving two vehicles with an extended field of debris along the roadway.

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Due to the size of the debris field, the westbound lanes of the Causeway were shut down for several hours while the police department investigated the crash with assistance from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.

In addition to the drivers, investigators say each car had one passenger on-board. They were all taken to local hospitals to be treated.

One of the passengers, identified by police as 70-year-old Pamela Morrison of Barney, Georgia, later died from injuries sustained in the crash.

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According to police, a preliminary examination of the crash scene indicated that a rear-end collision had occurred at a high speed.

Investigators ultimately determined that one of the drivers, later identified as 36-year-old Mark Vannicola, was traveling at a “reckless” speed while under the influence of alcohol when the crash occurred.

Vannicola was taken into custody and booked into the Brevard County jail Friday on one count each of DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide, as well as two counts of DUI with serious bodily injury. Vannicola was also charged with one count of being a habitual DUI offender. He’s being held on a total of $620,000 bond.

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One of the people injured in the crash is still in critical condition at a local hospital.

The police department’s investigation into the sequence of events leading up to the crash is ongoing. They’re asking anyone who may have additional information to call them at 321-868-3251.

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