FIPD officer, five others injured in DUI-related crash

Date Published: 
May 9, 2014

The Delaware State Police this week were investigating a crash that injured six people — including a Fenwick Island police officer — when an allegedly drunk driver ran into a parked police car, which then impacted a third vehicle that had been pulled over because its driver was also suspected of being drunk.

According to the DSP, on May 1, around 9:45 p.m., a 33-year-old Fenwick Island police officer had conducted a traffic stop on a car being driven by a suspected drunk driver and had parked his patrol car on the shoulder of Route 1 (Coastal Highway).

The officer, they said, was seated in the driver’s seat of his patrol vehicle, while 59-year-old Shawn Moran of Wilmington — the driver of the car initially stopped by the officer — was seated in the right rear passenger’s seat of the Ford Explorer patrol vehicle. His Toyota Sequoia was parked in front of the FIPD car, with two passengers inside.

The DSP reported that Heath Clifford McDermott of Bel Air, Md., had then struck the left rear of the FIPD vehicle with his Nissan Maxima, and the impact caused the patrol vehicle to lurch forward and strike the rear of Moran’s parked Sequoia. The Maxima continued northbound and overturned onto its roof, they said, trapping McDermott and a 48-year-old female passenger inside.

Upon his extrication from the vehicle, a State Police helicopter flew McDermott from the scene to Christiana Medical Center, where he was admitted with non-life-threatening injuries. His 48-year-old female passenger was transported by EMS to Beebe Medical Center, where she was also treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Fenwick Island police officer and Moran were both transported by EMS to Beebe, where they were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released. The 58-year-old and 60-year-old male passengers in Moran’s parked Sequoia were also removed from the scene by EMS and transported to Beebe Medical Center, where they, too, were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and released.

Master Cpl. Gary Fournier, public information officer for the Delaware State Police, said that the DSP had investigated the incident, at least in part, because it occurred just outside of the Fenwick Island Police Department’s jurisdiction.

“A lot of times, our division will handle other department’s crashes — especially when there’s injury involved. It’s just standard practice,” he explained. “Probably, if it was minor, they may have handled their own internal investigation. But most of the times, they’ll request us to come out and evaluate a crash, especially a departmental crash.”

Fournier added that the investigation of the incident had been conducted routinely, as a standard crash investigation, despite the police involvement.

“We’ll go out and take measurements, and all that we normally do on a personal injury crash investigation,” he said. “Obviously, we’re looking at all avenues of what occurred.”

Fournier said McDermott had been arrested and charged with one count of Driving Under the Influence and five counts of Vehicular Assault in the Second Degree upon his release from the hospital on May 4. The investigation by the Fenwick Island Police Department into the suspected DUI involving Moran was ongoing early this week.

Coastal Highway north of Fenwick Island was closed for approximately one and a half hours as the crash was investigated and cleared.