One of South Bethany’s welcome signs on Route 1 was destroyed after an alleged drunk-driving incident. According to the South Bethany Police Department, South Bethany resident Joan DeSantis was responsible for the single-car collision with the sign on Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 11:11 p.m.
“The sign was pretty much destroyed” at the Coastal Highway median at Evergreen Road, said Cpl. Patrick Wiley, public information officer. (The southern sign still stands, one mile away.)
There were no other passengers in the vehicle, and the black Volvo was towed away afterward.
The Bethany Beach Volunteer Fire Company’s incident log includes a South Bethany vehicle accident at 11:43 p.m.
After DeSantis was transported to Beebe Healthcare to evaluate her for injuries, she was arrested and transported to Sussex Correctional Institution (SCI) to be committed. Bail or release information was not available at the Coastal Point’s deadline.
She was charged with six crimes: driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol; malicious mischief by a motor vehicle; reckless driving; resisting arrest; offensive touching of a law enforcement officer; and offensive touching of an ambulance attendant/paramedic.
“I know, in looking at the video, she made certain allegations [as to getting people fired],” said South Bethany Police Chief Troy Crowson.
DeSantis has previously served on the South Bethany Planning Commission and Board of Adjustment, but never on the town council.
As for the beachy “Welcome to South Bethany” sign, a replacement was already in the works before the collision. According to Councilwoman Sue Callaway, the Town’s Community Enhancement Committee submitted a draft budget in January that includes two new signs. They are being designed on reflective material, as new Delaware Department of Transportation regulations would prohibit the permanent lamps that currently illuminate the signs.
Meanwhile, South Bethany will submit estimates for replacing the destroyed sign to the insurance company, in conjunction with the police department.