Death Road

A 62-year-old convict was killed while working outside the slammer. BSO ain't talking about it.

Osborne's body was swept beneath the dump truck and run over, the rear tires grinding his lower body against the hot pavement. Panicked, Newlin turned to Buck. "Charlie fell," he told him.

Both vehicles stopped. Iovino jumped out of the dump truck and ran to Osborne. "Charlie, what did you do?" Newlin remembered Iovino saying.

At that point, Iovino ordered Newlin to place flares on the road and direct traffic on U.S. 27. "I did everything but call 911," Newlin recalled.

Charlie Osborne would be alive and free had it not been for a dump truck's wheels
Charlie Osborne would be alive and free had it not been for a dump truck's wheels

As Newlin directed traffic, Buck approached Osborne. The bones in the injured man's arms and legs were exposed. Half of Osborne's buttocks was gone, leaving just tissue and white pus. Buck was amazed Osborne wasn't bleeding more severely. "I only saw two drops of blood," he said. "Two drops."

Buck removed Osborne's work gloves, then took off his own and placed all four under Osborne's head. "My feet hurt!" Osborne screamed. "Take my shoes off!"

Osborne could move his legs but not his feet.

The first ambulance arrived about 20 minutes after the incident, Buck recalled. A helicopter and a second ambulance followed. According to Buck, Iovino told paramedics he was driving 5 miles per hour when Osborne fell. A half hour after the accident, Osborne was transported to Broward Medical Center in the second ambulance, Buck remembered, and the helicopter took off.

Buck said he overheard a paramedic say that Osborne had gone into cardiac arrest. Later, Buck saw Iovino on the side of U.S. 27, his head in his hands, sobbing.

In the cab of the dump truck, Iovino explained to Buck and Newlin that he had told Osborne to climb inside. But the passenger window was up, Buck noticed. "I think he was trying to set an alibi right there," Buck commented.

According to a BSO press release issued March 13, Osborne died at Broward Medical Center. Buck, however, suggests that, because the helicopter left, he has doubts that Osborne made it to the hospital. "I think he died [at the scene]," Buck said.

On March 14, apparently following up on the press release, the Sun-Sentinel reported on Osborne's death, explaining that he "fell off a Broward Sheriff's Office dump truck on U.S. 27 and was run over." The article, by Shannon O'Boye, said Osborne was just five days from his March 17 release date and reported that Osborne's daughter, Charlene Gray, had planned to take him to Atlanta. BSO told O'Boye that witness accounts were conflicting; it was possible Osborne had been standing in the road when Iovino ran over him.

Asked about the Sentinel's article, Newlin commented: "It's bullshit. That was the story [the sheriff's office] wanted told."

Osborne's family is still trying to determine what happened. On March 13, the day after the incident, Col. James E. Wimberly, executive director of the sheriff's Detention and Community Control Department, visited the home of Osborne's sister, Zula Mae Osborne, in Fort Lauderdale. He would not discuss details of the accident, according to Taylor, Osborne's nephew. Wimberly declined to be interviewed by New Times.

What information Osborne's family has of the incident came from Newlin, who called them the day after the accident. Newlin and Buck both told BSO investigators their story on March 13, yet today, more than a month and a half after the incident, the agency still has not completed its traffic homicide investigation.

Because BSO has been so slow, Taylor suspects the agency is trying to conceal information. "I can't understand how you can take a 60-year-old man and put him on the side of a truck and expect him to hang on," Taylor said. "They're whitewashing the whole thing."

Added Taylor: "Every day goes by and something reminds you that he's no longer with us, and [BSO] haven't been up-front with us and come out and say, 'Hey, this is what happened.' He wasn't on death row. You're not supposed to die for a six-month possession charge."

The stonewalling doesn't surprise Buck. "It wasn't negligence; it was gross negligence," said Buck, 49. "The man's 62. Did they think he was a cowboy?"

BSO's foot-dragging suggests either gross insensitivity to the family or that the agency would prefer to let Osborne's body chill a bit before releasing its findings. Is there a cover-up? In the jailhouse interview, Newlin wouldn't answer that question. He claimed he's been transferred eight times since Osborne's death. BSO is trying to intimidate him, he said. Guards have threatened to charge him with a felony if he doesn't shut up about Osborne's death, he claimed.

Newlin, whose release date is set for May 18, worries that deputies will do something to stop him from meeting his friend Gary at Sonny's Stardust Lounge in Fort Lauderdale. That's where he plans to fix his car and skip town. Fuck Broward County.

You can't blame him for being skittish. After 15 minutes of speaking through a window with guards around the corner, Newlin ended the interview with New Times. "Call me May 18," he said. "I'll tell you everything." Then he turned and disappeared into the maze of hallways and security doors leading to his cell -- a small room not unlike the one where Charlie Osborne would have spent only five more nights before being freed.

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