MOUNT DORA, Florida—It has been nearly six months since Emily Lowe got the call that changed her life.
In the early morning hours of July 23, 2022, Lowe’s father, beloved local musician Robert Wilson was attempting to push his minivan off a curb on Old U.S. Highway 441 across from Dairy Queen in Mount Dora when good Samaritan Michael Dickey saw him and stopped to help.
“I thought, man, somebody is going to hit him,” Dickey told Inside Lake earlier this week, “and I’ll be damned if what I thought happened.”
Wilson’s tire was stuck on the curb and could not get any traction. After unsuccessfully trying to push the van off the curb, Dickey suggested they use his truck, a Nissan Frontier, to pull the minivan off the curb. Dickey, who was headed home after working late at his furniture refinishing shop in Tavares, had a flashlight in his hand and was starting to attach a strap to Wilson’s minivan when the white 2015 Hyundai Genesis Justin Thomas Flower was driving came speeding down Old U.S. Highway 441.
The Hyundai came straight at them, Dickey jumped out the way and the car struck Wilson first throwing him several feet, then struck the back end of Wilson’s minivan and finally Dickey’s truck, hitting it with such force, it spun around. All three vehicles were totaled.
“My truck did a 180 spin, turned the opposite way it was parked,” Dickey said. Dickey injured his finger and held the flashlight through the entire ordeal, including questioning by Mount Dora Police Department. The crash sheared the bulb and bulb cover right off the handle.
“It knocked it clean off. I came close to dying, real close to dying,” Dickey said, shaking his head, “He never hit his brakes, never hit his brakes.”
Dickey still has the flashlight and held it during his interview with Inside Lake.
Flower kept driving and got about a half of a mile down the road, “I don’t know how he made it that far,” Dickey said.
“I started screaming at him, stop! Stop! Stop!”
An unidentified man in a Honda Civic stopped and Dickey told him to get behind Flower so he could not leave, and he did, Dickey said. A minute or so later, someone handed Dickey a phone and said, “It’s 9-1-1,” and the man in the Honda drove by and said, “We’re good” and left. “I found out later he never even called 9-1-1,” Dickey said.
Flower got out of the car and, “He was pacing around and around.” Two unidentified women stopped to help him, and he reportedly told them he was fine, and “There’s a bad accident down there you need to go the other way.” The women continued toward the crash site, Dickey said, and “suddenly he (Flower) was gone,” but he left the disabled Hyundai in the middle of the road.
The women stopped and helped Wilson and Dickey, and one woman removed her shirt, clad only in a bra, and wrapped it around Wilson’s head in attempt to help him and stop the bleeding, Dickey told Inside Lake.
Once MDPD arrived on scene Dickey said he felt like they treated him like a criminal. “I thought I was going to jail. They wouldn’t let me call my wife. I was furious.” He said he was interviewed by at least six MDPD officers. “My mouth was dry, I was exhausted. They wouldn’t even let me have a drink. “
Dickey was never interviewed again after the morning of the crash. “I called him (the crash investigator) three or four times and he never returned my call. Never would return an email.” Dickey said he called him two more times in the last few weeks and the investigator did not return those calls either.
Dickey still has a hard time understanding the crash, “How do you not react and hit the brakes?” Data from the vehicle later showed Flower was driving 42.87 miles per hour and never hit the brakes. The posted speed limit in that area is 35 miles per hour.
Wilson, 50, was airlifted to Orlando Regional Medical Center after the crash, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy later determined Wilson died from a skull fracture and brain bleed caused by the crash.
According to a probable cause affidavit, MDPD contacted the registered owner of the Hyundai and she said she lent the car to Flower and Flower was at a home on Morningside Drive, less than a mile from the crash site. MDPD spoke with Flower, and he said he struck a dog that jumped into the roadway. He claimed to have no memory of the crash and woke up the following morning at the home on Morningside Drive wondering how he got there.
Dickey said he does not understand why Flower was not arrested right then, “How do you believe that lie?” he said.
During later questioning Flower admitted to drinking “a beer and a shot” prior to the crash, the affidavit states.
It took nearly three months for MDPD is issue a warrant for Flower for manslaughter and leaving the scene of a crash involving death. After the warrant was issued, he ran to Jackson County, North Carolina, Wilson’s daughter Emily Lowe told Inside Lake.
He was apprehended in North Carolina in late November extradited to Lake County Dec. 30, just one day before his 39th birthday after he spent more than a month in jail in North Carolina, according to Lake County Clerk of Court online records. He is being held in LCJ on no bond.
Flower is scheduled to be arraigned Monday—exactly six months after the crash.
The pain is still raw for Lowe. She misses her dad tremendously and is angry he was taken from her.
“I can forgive but I can never forget,” she told Inside Lake.
Wilson was a well-known local musician, a friend, a son, Lowe said, but most importantly he was Dad to her and her three brothers and Pop Pop to his two grandsons and only granddaughter.
“He was more than his music, more than a friend, He was a father and a grandfather. That’s who he was,” Lowe, 27, said. “My Dad was my absolute best friend, she said. “My rock, my safety net.”
Lowe rushed to ORMC when she found out what happened, and doctors told her he was brain dead and there was no chance at life. Lowe told Inside Lake she fell to the floor and begged him to wake up. But he never did. “This man (Flower) took my life from me in a way,” she said.
Lowe said her dad and Flower knew each other and she has received information they were both at Fat Cats, a nearby bar, the night of the crash. Flower was never tested for alcohol consumption by MDPD but did admit to drinking the night of the crash—doctors at ORMC told Lowe her father was not legally drunk, she said.
“He plowed my Dad,” Lowe said. “Justin Flower hit my Dad. He was brain dead on the scene.
Lowe said her dad was very musically gifted and a “great friend to all who knew him.” He was never a stranger to anyone and enjoyed a close with relationship with his granddaughter, 7. She misses him very much, Lowe said. Sometimes it is hard for Lowe to grieve her father, because she has to stay strong for her daughter and her grandmother.
“My grandma is not OK because she lost her son.”
Lowe said the whole ordeal has been terrible, but the added length of the investigation, lack of communication and Flower running has made things worse.
“It’s been a nightmare to deal with. I just want justice for my Dad.”