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‘Friends with everybody’: petty officer died after Jacksonville traffic accident

A Florida-based Navy petty officer died last month following a traffic accident in Jacksonville.

Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class Donovan C. Lindberg, of the ballistic submarine Alaska’s blue crew, was sitting in traffic in the left lane of southbound Interstate 95 at about 6:40 p.m. on Dec. 11, according to the Navy and Florida Highway Patrol.

For reasons that remain under investigation, a Toyota Highlander SUV failed to slow down and rear-ended Lindberg’s Chevrolet Cruze hatchback, slamming the driver’s side of the sailor’s vehicle into another car, according to the highway patrol.

Lindberg, 22, died two days later at the University of Florida Health Shands Hospital, according to Submarine Group 10 spokesman Lt. Stuart Phillips.

An investigation into the crash remains ongoing, according to the highway patrol.

“The submarine community is extremely close and is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of a shipmate,” Phillips said in an email. “Every death of a Sailor is devastating and affects our entire Navy family. Our sympathies and condolences are with the family, friends and shipmates of Petty Officer Lindberg.”

Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class Donovan C. Lindberg and his wife, Max, at their wedding in January 2020. (Photo courtesy Max Lindberg)
Machinist’s Mate (Nuclear) 2nd Class Donovan C. Lindberg and his wife, Max, at their wedding in January 2020. (Photo courtesy Max Lindberg)

Lindberg arrived to Alaska in May 2018, his first assignment out of school.

He grew up in Michigan and met his wife, Max Lindberg, at a family gathering, the 19-year-old widow told Navy Times.

As Christmas approached, Lindberg wanted one thing in particular, his wife recalled this week.

“When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he said he wanted to start a family,” she said.

Max Lindberg said she got her first positive ovulation test the day of her husband’s accident.

“I called his boat and I got to talk to him about it maybe two hours before the accident happened,” she said. “We don’t have any kids but we were trying.”

Max Lindberg’s birthday is Dec. 13, the same day her husband died.

“He was the most kind, loving, understanding person that there is,” she said. “You could go to him with anything and he would be there for you.”

Lindberg is also survived by his parents, Mary and Richard, as well as two siblings, Marissa and Brendan.

He was good at his job, but the time away was hard, Lindberg’s wife said.

Lindberg told his wife that deploying on a boomer sub was “scary and very cold,” she recalled.

“They were underneath the water and he always said it was really, really cold,” Max Lindberg said. “Very close-quartered, but he got along with everybody he worked with. He was friends with everybody. Not a hard person to talk to or love.”

“Serving in the Navy means dedication to me,” Lindberg was quoted as saying in a 2019 Navy blog post. “Nothing is going to come easy but you have to work hard to succeed.”

In his off time, Lindberg enjoyed PC gaming, scrolling Reddit and reading SCP fantasy books.

“A lot of Navy guys are geeks,” Max Lindberg noted.

Now back where they grew up in Michigan, she said she is grateful to bystanders at the scene of her husband’s accident.

The person in front of him got his phone and called her, which she said helped ensure she got to the hospital sooner to be with him.

“Had she not, I may not have been there in time,” she said. “They would’ve called the Navy first.”

Another good Samaritan helped get him out of the wreck before the ambulance arrived.

In the end, at least, his family was able to travel down from Michigan and be with him to say goodbye.

“He was family oriented,” Max Lindberg said. “That was his everything, his family.”

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