Editor’s note: This account is based on the public records and court documents available regarding the 2017 crash Joshua Woodard was involved in. We were unable to locate any official explanation as to why he was never arrested or served any jail time or why his charges were so minor despite the severity of the situation. Below is an editorial translation of what took place according to the numerous legal documents Loudwire has obtained.
It has recently come to light that former A Day To Remember bassist, Josh Woodard, was involved in a 2017 crash that left another man dead.
While the crash received some coverage via local Florida news outlets, the information was never picked up wider by music media, despite Woodard’s position in an internationally touring band. Last Wednesday (Oct. 13), Woodard announced his departure from the Florida pop-punk band following pressure from fans in response to previous allegations of sexual assault. After his departure, the deadly 2017 accident also came to light.
The crash occurred in the early evening hours of May 11, 2017, in Palm Beach County in Florida, according to a Vehicle Homicide Investigative Report from the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office. Woodard, who was 30 at the time, was driving a black 2016 Tesla Model S traveling eastbound on Okeechobee Boulevard.
Bryant Gonzalez Ortiz was in a 1993 Honda Civic and was completely stopped while exiting a shopping plaza and attempting to turn eastbound onto Okeechobee.
According to the report, Woodard suddenly and unexpectedly crossed over three lanes of traffic and crashed head on into the driver’s side of the Honda Civic. Palm Beach County Fire Rescue treated Gonzalez, 24, but declared him dead at the scene of the crash.
Gonzalez suffered massive blunt force trauma and died as a result of the impact.
His automobile was declared a loss as a result of the damage.
Based on the report, it appears both men were wearing seatbelts at the time of the impact. Woodard had minor injuries and refused medical attention at the scene of the crash.
The report also indicates there was a witness who told investigators that Woodard’s vehicle veered to the right, almost striking the minivan the witness was driving, forcing them to take an evasive maneuver to avoid a crash before Woodard’s Tesla made impact with Gonzalez’s Honda Civic.
In the report, Vehicle Homicide Investigator Alan Soloway wrote, “I met with [Woodard] and observed his eyes to be red, he appeared dazed and he had urinated himself. [Woodard] stated his attorney was on the way to the scene and he refused to speak with me prior to his attorney arriving.”
The report goes on to say that due to Woodard’s lack of cooperation, the detective was unable to conduct an in-depth impairment assessment to determine if his observations were due to impairment or a reaction to a crash of this magnitude. The report noted that no impairing substances were found in Woodard’s car.
Woodard’s attorney, Paul Walsh, arrived on the scene and informed police that Woodard would not be providing a statement and also declined the investigator’s request to submit a voluntary blood sample.
Investigators found no defects in either vehicle that would have caused the crash and reported that based on vehicle damage and crash dynamics, speed did not appear to be a factor. The report also indicated that weather was clear at the time of the crash.
The Vehicle Homicide Investigation Report concluded that Woodard was in violation of careless driving and failure to maintain a single lane.
Less than a month later, starting June 8 at Switzerland’s Greenfield Festival, Woodard embarked on a string of European festival dates with A Day To Remember. In June of 2017 the band also announced a North American Tour spanning July 29 – Oct. 19 with Moose Blood and Wage War, as well as dates for the band’s Self Help Festival events.
In a court filing from Oct. 30, 2017, Woodard’s attorney entered a not guilty plea in relation to the violations from the accident. In Florida, any person cited for an infraction in an accident that causes death or “serious bodily injury” must appear in court. County Judge Paul A. Damico acknowledged the fact that the court had no jurisdiction to bring criminal charges against Woodard and would only be dealing with the traffic violations.
In an order dated Oct. 30, the court noted:
“Further the court assumes this matter has been reviewed by the State Attorney’s Office and it has been determined that criminal charges are not warranted, or this matter has not been referred to the State Attorney to further investigate.”
A trial was then set for Nov. 15, 2017, to review the traffic infraction pending against Woodard. The trial date was rescheduled several times. It was eventually held on Dec. 6, 2017.
On Dec. 6, 2017, Woodard pleaded no contest to careless driving and was found guilty. He had his license suspended for 12 months and was issued a $1,000 fine and ordered to pay $106 in mandatory court costs. Woodard paid the fines in full on Jan. 16, 2018.
Court records also show that the victim’s family spoke to the court and showed a photo album of Gonzalez. Gonzalez was a father, partner, son and, based on his Facebook profile, a car enthusiast.
On May 10, 2019, Gonzalez’s father, Fernando Gonzalez, filed a wrongful death complaint seeking monetary compensation for himself, Bryant’s mother and Bryant’s son. The complaint states that Fernando Gonzalez as the Personal Representative of the Estate of Bryant Gonzalez Ortiz “demands judgement against Defendant, Joshua S. Woodard, for damages in excess of [$15,000], plus costs, and all other relief deemed just and proper under the circumstances, and demands a trial by jury of all issues triable as a matter of right by a jury.”
The complaint was seeking compensation for damages including funeral costs, property damage, lost support and services, mental pain and suffering and all other damages required by law.
Fernando later, on April 13, 2020, voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, meaning the plaintiff (Fernando) cannot refile the same claim again in that court.
Woodard announced his departure from the A Day To Remember earlier this month in a statement on his social media following past allegations made against that have since resurfaced.
A representative for Woodard declined to provide comment for this piece.