Cape graduate Deepak Chatani dies in fatal Route 1 crash

Third 2013 death on Coastal Highway
July 16, 2013

This year is the 20th anniversary of Cape Henlopen High School’s Class of 1993, but the man who wrote the class motto won't be celebrating.

Deepak Chatani, 37, died July 11 when he was struck by a DART bus while walking his bicycle on Route 1. Chantani’s class motto was, “Our eyes behold the vision of the future.”

Chatani’s family owns Rehoboth Lifestyle Clothing Company at 77 Rehoboth Ave. The store was closed over the weekend, according to Rehoboth Main Street Executive Director Annmarie Westerfield. Calls to the store were not answered.

Main Street founder Kathy McGuiness said she sold the family a property at 15 Rehoboth Ave., the T-Shirt Locker.  Although she did not know Chatani personally, McGuiness said the family is very nice and hard-working. “What a loss," she said.

A native of Rehoboth, Chatani studied art and art history at James Madison University. In addition to businesses in Rehoboth, where his parents and sister live, his family also owns businesses Ocean City, Md. Chatani’s family asked in lieu of flowers that donations be sent to the Rehoboth Art League.

Delaware State Police said Chatani was walking his bicycle northbound on Route 1 with his back to traffic when he was struck by a DART bus driven by George Bryant, 58, of Milton, who was changing lanes, preparing to make a left turn onto Shuttle Road. Chatani was thrown forward and landed against the median; the bus partially ran over the bike, which remained lodged under the left front side of the bus as it came to a stop in the turn lane.

DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt said in a statement that Bryant underwent drug and alcohol testing, as required under DelDOT policies. However, DelDOT spokeswoman Sandy Roumillat said the accident is still under investigation and the department cannot comment further.

Delaware State Police spokeman Cpl. Gary Fournier said no charges against Bryant are being considered, although the investigation is ongoing. Bryant was wearing a seatbelt and was not injured.

“Everyone at Delaware Transit Corporation deeply regrets this loss of life and our deepest sympathies go out to the family and friends of this individual,” Bhatt said.

Chatani was the fifth person to die in a crash in Sussex County this year, according to Delaware State Police statistics. He was the third to die along  Route 1, just eight days after a July 4 crash in Dewey Beach that took the life of Roy Love, 79, of Rehoboth.

The General Assembly has begun taking steps to look at safety on Route 1. Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, has sponsored legislation creating a task force to study pedestrian safety from Nassau Bridge in Lewes to the southern end of Dewey Beach.

Schwartzkopf said he has sent letters to the mayors of Dewey and Rehoboth, the Rehoboth Beach-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company asking for designees for service. There will also be three members of the public on the task force. He said the task force will not be able to do anything to affect this summer, but that it would look into finding the causes of accidents to see what can be improved.


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