Three Oaks middle band director dies from injuries suffered in car crash

Skip Perry

Skip Perry

Video from NBC-2

Three Oaks Middle School

18500 Three Oaks Parkway, Fort Myers, FL

Three Oaks Middle School band director William “Skip” Perry died Monday, a week after he was involved in a crash near the intersection of Alico Road and Ben Hill Griffin Parkway.

“We are doing okay,” said Bonita Springs Concert Band director/ conductor Dennis Hill, a long-time friend of Perry. “We are going to miss Skip a lot. He certainly was a big part of the musical community in South Florida, not only as a teacher- where he affected the life of many students over 20 years- but also as a performer.”

Perry’s friends and family, including his wife Mary, were by his side since the April 11 accident, Hill said. He confirmed that Perry died Monday afternoon.

According to Florida Highway Patrol, Perry was driving a 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse east on Alico Road, while fellow Fort Myers resident Michael Dewayne Bertsch was driving a 2006 Peterbuilt semi-truck west on Alico Road.

FHP reports said that at around 8:44 a.m. April 11, Perry’s Eclipse crossed the center line and hit the left front side of the truck.

After the impact, FHP reports said that the Eclipse rotated counter clockwise and came to a final rest on the east bound lane facing south. The truck continued eastbound and came to a final rest facing west.

Perry, 60, was airlifted to Lee Memorial Hospital in critical condition.

The accident shut down Alico Road at Ben Hill Griffin Parkway in Lee County for several hours, and a HAZMAT crew had to clean diesel fuel from the accident off the road before it could be reopened.

FHP reports said charges are pending in the accident.

On Tuesday, Lee County School District spokesman Joe Donzelli said Three Oaks Middle School principal Michael Carson had been dealing with staff and students distraught over the tragedy.

“When he received the news late last night late last night, Mr. Carson called all the members of his staff individually on the phone to break the news to them so they didn’t hear it either a) from the media or b) before they got to school,” Donzelli said. “He wanted to be the one to let them know that Mr. Perry passed.”

Students learned of Perry’s death Tuesday, Donzelli said when Carson made the announcement during the morning announcements.

Donzelli added that the district had grief counselors available for students and teachers on Tuesday.

“He has been there for about three years, he has been in the district for a while and his wife works for the district,” Donzelli said of Perry. “So as soon as we got word (of his death), that was the first thing we made arrangements for.”

An email went out to county staff Tuesday afternoon and a letter was sent home with Three Oaks Middle School students to let parents know of Perry’s death.

Funeral services for Perry are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church of Fort Myers, 1735 Jackson Street, Fort Myers. Visitation at the church will start at noon.

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