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Beloved Fort Walton Beach lab-tech killed in vehicle crash, driver arrested for DUI

UPDATE: The funeral service for Demetrius Thomas will take place on Monday, August 28, 2023 at 6pm at Trinity United Methodist Church at 403 Racetrack Road NW in Fort Walton […]

Demetrius Thomas was killed on August 22 in a vehicle trash in Fort Walton Beach (Contributed)

UPDATE: The funeral service for Demetrius Thomas will take place on Monday, August 28, 2023 at 6pm at Trinity United Methodist Church at 403 Racetrack Road NW in Fort Walton Beach.

All are welcome to attend.


On August 22, 2023, at approximately 8:59pm, the Fort Walton Beach Police Department responded to a vehicle crash with injuries at the intersection of Wright Parkway NW/Holmes Blvd NW.

According to the FWBPD, a gray Ford pickup truck operated by 48-year-old Benjamin Raser of Fort Walton Beach was traveling north on Wright Parkway when it collided with a white Acura sedan. The sedan was operated by 52-year-old Demetrius Thomas of Fort Walton Beach as he was traveling East on Holmes Blvd NW.

Lifesaving efforts were attempted by Officers and FD/EMS, but Thomas was pronounced deceased on scene.

  • The passenger of the gray pickup truck was transported to HCA Fort Walton-Destin Hospital where he was listed in critical condition.

Benjamin Raser was transported to HCA Fort Walton-Destin Hospital and was medically cleared. However, after further investigation, he was arrested on charges of DUI Manslaughter and DUI Serious Bodily Injury, according to the report.

Beloved lab-tech at Magnolia Medial Clinic

Demetrius Thomas worked as a lab-tech at Magnolia Medical Clinic in Fort Walton Beach. This morning, as the news broke of the crash, Magnolia closed their office and made time to come together as a staff and mourn the loss of their beloved co-worker.

“Magnolia lost our friend and brother, Demetrius Thomas, last night and words are inadequate at this time to capture that loss,” said Dr. Chris Pappas, Senior Physician at Magnolia. “We spoke to his mother, Joanne Thomas, this morning, and she told us “he loved the Magnolia Clinic, the staff, and the patients.”

Dr. Pappas told Get The Coast that during a staff gathering this morning that two quotes stood out to him:

“Each day is a gift from God.”

“Everyone needs a Demetrius in their life.”

He concluded by saying, “We are diminished. He was a key family member of Magnolia and what made us special.”

The Fort Walton Beach Police Department Traffic Homicide Unit is investigating this case, according to FWBPD.

If you have any information pertaining to this incident, please contact MPO M. Montgomery or Detective M. Stirling at 850-833-9546.

63 Responses

  1. Demetrius was one of the kindest most decent human beings I have ever known. Dedicated to his work as a Lab Manager @ Magnolia Medical and to every Patient that walked through the door. I was lucky to have worked with him @ the clinic but luckier to call him my friend. I am heart broken that someone’s choice to take a drink and drive has robbed him and his family of the life he so deserved. Your smile and caring soul will be truly missed ❤️. Your friend Kathy

      1. Sandi, my Mom (Diana) and I are so sorry, this is a travesty. I loved it when Demetrius asked, “How’s Lady Di?” And always mentioned my belated father “Pete.” Wonderful Man; sending healing thoughts and prayers to his family and his extended family- Magnolia Clinic

  2. Demetrius was a great asset to magnolia medical clinic. Even when I saw him out somewheres he always recognized me. He will be greatly missed.

  3. I was devastated this morning to hear of this tragedy. I have known Demetrius since the old days when Dr. Russell was my Primary Physician. I considered him a friend and I will miss him dearly! REST IN PIECE MY FRIEND!

  4. I am a patient at Magnolia and I had the pleasure of knowing Demetrius for many year he was a wonderful and caring man he will be greatly missed. So sad someone ended his life in this manner.

  5. Demetrius was an incredible human being and will be sorely missed. Not many people possess the kindness and compassion he had for people. It’s absolutely heartbreaking that we lost him to something so preventable.

  6. Paula Boswell comments:
    You find yourself so heartbroken when you hear something like this about a dear friend. Demetrius never showed himself to have a bad day at the clinic. The lab is not a fun place, but going to see Demetrius was a joy. We have known him from the Drs. Russell and Buckelew’s time. He was dedicated to his work, his doctors, his patients and the staff. Such a caring heart and soul and so devastating that his life was taken in this way. He loved God so we can rejoice his Heavenly Father now has this precious man in His sight. We will miss you dearly.

    1. Paula, that is what I’ve been struggling with: Why Demetrius? He was a truly beautiful human. I think you hit on the answer: he touched SO many lives in such a positive way, that his quick departure is a reminder to all of us to get right with God, now, and strive to live a life reflecting God’s love to others (as Demetrius did). We do not know when God will take us Home. Demetrius is not suffering now: we are. But we are all Blessed to have had him in our lives.

  7. Demetrius “D” touched so many lives over the years and was always smiling and asking about the family. What a blessing he was, and I am heart broken his time was cut short here on earth. Sing now with the angels as you have earned your wings my friend.

  8. Demetrius was an amazing person, full of absolute joy. A true blessing to his friends, coworkers, and patients. He could light up any room. I am honored to have been able to work with him and call him friend. He will be dearly missed. Prayers to his mother and son. May the Lord be with you to comfort you and give you strength. We will miss you friend.

  9. So sad and sorry to hear of this tragic loss of Demetrius . Demetrius always spoke to me outside of the clinic when I saw him and truly cared about my well being. He will be missed by so many people in so many different ways. Always so happy and smiling made everyone around him feel good even when I was feeling my worst. Hearing of this loss brings tears to my eyes. Sending prayers to his family and hope they will eventually find some peace.

  10. Demetrius is the kind of man you wanted around. Kind, always positive, great at his work, a dedicated father and full of love. His smile was infectious and his soul was sweet! God speed healing to his family and friends. He will be surely missed. I know he’s smiling at us from above.

  11. Demetrius was such a welcoming person in the lab. He knew my name and my husband’s name and spoke to us so kindly. He was always rushing around to keep the lab on time for his patients. Will miss him very much❤️

  12. I am a patient at Magnolia and I had the pleasure of knowing Demetrius for over 10 years. I have a deep fear of needles and he would always put me at ease before drawing my blood. He will be greatly missed. Praying for his family, friends and the wonderful staff at Magnolia Medical Clinic.

  13. Demetrius will be missed greatly. He was always smiling and spoke to everyone, making us feel so special. He called me by name on Monday when he saw me as I was there for lab work. I’m praying for his family and all his coworkers at Magnolia who I know will miss him. May you all feel God’s peace and comfort!

  14. We are just heart broken and devastated our whole family just loved Demetrius he will be missed by everyone he came in contact with prayers to all family and friends

  15. This absolutely breaks my heart. He was such a sweet, caring man. I looked for him every time I had labs. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. I am so sorry for your loss. May he rest in peace.

    1. Demetrius was so kind to everyone that came in. He was extremely efficient, capable, professional. But most of all he cared about every patient that came in to the lab. He was authentic. I’m so very sorry my M
      Magnolia family.

  16. My 85 year-old mother hated needles, but never once complained when it was Demetrius taking care of her. He always had a smile and genuine compassion for patients and their families. Magnolia, his friends, and family have lost a truly wonderful gift! Heaven has gained another precious angel!

  17. Demetrius was a great guy always in a good mood made you feel like part of the family prayers for his family and work family

  18. Rest in peace Demetrius. Heart breaking news! Demetrius was part of Magnolia Clinic, always pleasant, always kind, always knew your name and asked about your family. This is so wrong! This patient is heartbroken over a senseless loss of a wonderful human being!
    I hope the perp will get the maximum punishment allowed by the law and then even more for taking the life of such a wonderful person.

  19. So tragic… Best lab tech at magnolia and exuded such kindness and joy. Thoughts go out to his family.

  20. Our family is heartbroken over the loss of this wonderful man. Our prayers to his family, friends and his Magnolia Medical Clinic family. He will certainly be missed.

  21. Demetrius will be missed. Last I saw him a couple of weeks ago drawing my blood we joked together. He was like that. He will be missed.

  22. My heart is totally broken over the loss of Demetrius. He was the most joyful and caring person I’ve ever known. He always asked about my husband, and our business. We all have lost a wonderful friend.
    Condolences to the Magnolia Medical Clinic “family”, and to Dr. Chris Pappas.

  23. He will be missed by us all. A very kind and caring man. He very a special person and I love seeing him come in a my work at Chickfila. He was always a pleasure to talk to and help .

  24. Such a tragedy. D was so awesome at his job and put a smile on my face for sure. This is so sad.

  25. Most of the comments seem to be about his kindness, which I think is true. But something else is important: Demetrius was extremely good at his job. He was amazing. Doing what he did takes tremendous skill, and he was as good as I’ve seen. This is so very, very sad.

    1. AGREED! In my 64 years I’ve never before experienced the expertise of Demetrius. He was the best (though Lauren is a close second).

  26. Such sad news. Demetrius was so good at what he did. Always a joy to have him draw my blood when that was needed. Such a tragic loss. He was so caring and friendly. May he rest in peace. Sincere condolences to his family and friends.

  27. Demetrius, thank you for bringing joy and music to the lab. Thank you for caring so much for each one of us. We sometimes saw you on our worst days, but you always made us feel better. We were blessed to have you in our lives, I look forward to seeing you again in heaven.

  28. WOW! I’m in complete disbelief. I’ve been a patient at Magnolia for 34 years. Demetrius is the only one who could deal with these tiny veins that roll in 1 or 2 sticks. I was there 11/2 weeks ago. I can’t believe he won’t be there on my next visit. He would see my name and his first question was, “Did you drink any water?” I’m going to miss talking, laughing, and joking with him. He’s an ABSOLUTELY AWESOME HUMAN BEING!! To his Mom and son, you’re both in my prayers. He will truly be missed.

  29. Broken hearts everywhere with this sad and unnecessary event. But Demetrius was a unique and very special person who allowed God to direct his life and didn’t question his Lord. Always full of joy and exhibited peace to all and leaves us with a wonderful role model…he came by where I work on his way to work leaving with laughter, positive comments and a message for my husband… we’ll miss our dear friend and cherish our time with him.

  30. This news has saddened my day. I have been a patient at Magnolia for 40 years and the lab technicians have always been wonderful. His greetings and smiles will be missed. Words cannot express the sorrow of knowing why I won’t see him when I have my next tests. He was a blessing for us all.

  31. Oh my heart is so broken to hear about Demetrius. Both me and my husband always had our labs done by him. My husband just saw him a few days ago. He hated my veins,but always told me to drink water a hour before coming in. He was such an uplifting person, excellent bed side manners, so positive and funny. Heaven gained a beautiful soul. Rest in peace Demetrius

  32. Demetrius had one of those personalities that made everyone feel like a close friend. Rest in peace Demetrius. You will be sadly missed by a great number of people.

  33. I am at a loss for words. I saw him the day prior at Magnolia. He was always smiling, it was definitely contagious. I’ve been a patient with Magnolia for over 15 years and always received the best service from Demetrius. Loved talking sports and listening to music while waiting for the needle… in which he was always successful on the first try. You will definitely be missed.

  34. I didn’t know him but you can tell by the outreach from the community, and kind words being said about Demetrius just how many live he has touched and made a difference in. What a blessing his life has been. Such a tragedy to lose a young life in this nonsense manner. Prayers for his family, friends and to everyone who knew and is grieving for Demetrius.

  35. I am so saddened to hear this tragic news. Demetrius was such a warm and welcoming person. He was the favorite lab tech of many, including my 86 yr old mother, my husband & myself. He was always uplifting and encouraging and his blood draws never hurt us. Although our encounters were quick & routine, he made us feel special and like we mattered. Demetrius was so very special,and his life mattered. Rest in peace and this community will not forget you!

  36. What a fine person Demetrius was! I will miss him so much. Said hello to him when I saw him the clinic a couple days ago. I am gutted.

  37. A wonderful person to know and to interact with if only for a few minutes. When I would see him out of the work setting, I had to look twice because it was a totally different look. His gait showed he was about his job. It has been a while since I have felt this sense of loss. May our Father console those closest to him. Rest now my brother

  38. Our family is heartbroken! Demetrius has taken care of all if us for about 15 years. He was always so personable, and genuinely cared about us and people in general. It showed everytime you saw him…and years later would always ask about my children and how they were doing. We were blessed to know him. I know many of you feel that way. We will pray for his beautiful soul, and his family. Fly high Demetrius…please continue to look over us. It will not be the same going to Magnolia for my quarterly blood draws without you there.

  39. To say I am devastated is an understatement, Demetrius made you feel you were his favorite patient…my prayers and thoughts to his family and his Magnolia family, will miss him calling me “New York”

  40. There are times in life that someone is special today and then the next day we don’t see them. D was a great friend of mine I respect him and his life. We would talk Football and he would amaze me with his knowledge of the game but his love and compassion are the things that I will never forget I love you D and will forever remember you. May God Bless you and may you RIP.

  41. He was the best lab tech I ever had. I cry when I saw this. He was so special, friendly and heartfelt. He enjoyed his job and it showed. I will think of him every time I need blood drawn. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and to the doctors and staff of Magnolia Medical Center. Rest In Peace ❤️

    1. This guy was the nicest guy.
      Wether getting blood drawn or just seeing the doc
      He would always say “ hi Boston.
      I would actually look forward to getting my blood drawn!!!
      He will be dearly missed
      Shelia H

  42. Services for Demetrius will be Monday 08/28/2023 at Trinity Church on Racetrack Road at 6PM for anyone who would like to come out.

  43. I have been a patient at Magnolia for ten years and have had many interactions with Demetrius. He was always welcoming and a great man to have in such a critical position. As many have stated already, he was awesome. Demetrius will be missed by me and many other patients at Magnolia Medical.

  44. I have been a patient at Magnolia since 2007 and always loved my conversations with Demetrius when having labs performed. He was always so nice and professional. Really gonna miss seeing him at the lab. Prayers up to all who are feeling the enormous loss of such a good dude. May the Lord continue to bless those closest to him

  45. We followed Dr. Senechal when he joined Magnolia and that is when we met Demetri – very man years ago. We immediately struck up a friendship that has lasted over the years and always look forward to seeing Demetri when we visit Magnolia. He will be greatly missed by everyone who ever knew him. Our condolences to his family and everyone at Magnolia. May his memory be eternal.

  46. My husband, Augie, and I are devastated to hear about Demetrius. He was a cheerful, godly man. He will be missed by all. May God envelope his family with peace. Eva Huber

  47. Demetrius was such a cool and kind hearted person. There is only two people at Magnolia I love to do my kids and I blood work and he was the top guy. He is going to be greatly missed. Such a sweet soul. My condolences to his family and the staff at Magnolia

  48. I always looked forward in seeing Demetrius. I am devastated to hear of his loss!! He was such a good guy!! What a loss for all of us! RIP my friend ❤

  49. I loved seeing Demetrius at the lab, he was always such a ray sunshine, every single time I ever went in, without fail. He is definitely a man of God, his actions and his personality always reflected that ❤️

  50. Demetrius was one of a kind. Such an important part of the success of Magnolia Medical clinic. He will truly be missed. Just a great guy.

  51. The daughters of the late Dr. Barnard Russell of Magnolia, express our heartbroken sympathy over the tragic loss of Demetrius, “D”. All that knew him, knew he was a beautiful, caring, life giving person we all loved seeing, and visiting with. He felt like family to everyone, was someone you looked forward to seeing, and was a daily cherished presence at the original Magnolia Clinic and current one.
    He elevated the entire clinic experience for every patient taking the time to genuinely greet you making every person feel seen, heard, calmer, better, happier, from his kindness. We are just shattered, to learn of his passing. D was also a very talented photographer and I loved seeing his photos he posted in the original clinic and discussing them, and seeing the joy he’d express when talking about his son. Our prayers and love go to Demetrius’s family, his beloved son, and everyone that knew him, and did not, for he was one of those absolute rarest of people that radiate love. Demetrius is unforgettable, and an unfathomable loss.
    Thank you for the kindness you shared D. Our love, respect, and appreciation go with you. -Julee, Caryn, Jett, and on behalf of Mom, Dad, Pearl, Grandmom, and all you cared for. Rest in Peace.

  52. I didn’t understand what I was seeing when I went for my checkup at Magnolia Medical this morning…..I saw the flowers and then his picture and thought he won a prize or something but then I saw the look that the staff had and when I read one the note on the flowers, my heart stopped!! The staff just nodded and said yes, he’s gone…..I just couldn’t believe it!! I had tears because I just saw him about like 3 weeks ago right there in the clinic…..we joked about seeing each other because we had not seen each other in a while. He was always courteous, friendly, polite and asked about you and family without being intrusive….I called Ox and he was just as shocked and saddened to hear the news. To his family we offer our condolences and prayers for this remarkable person. He was a beautiful soul and God said come to me now. Blessings to you and rest in peace!

  53. I had no idea this happend until I had an appointment. I was shocked to see pictures on a table and then found out he was gone. The staff filled me in on what had happened. The lab is now named after him. Wow that hit me. It’s sad that I will no longer see him there. For all the drunk drivers please get help.

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