Car crashes into American Legion propane tanks

Driver, 91, dies at the scene of Route 24 accident
A Crown Victoria driven by Norman B. Davis crashed into two above-ground propane tanks at American Legion Post 28 and into a neighboring fence and shed Jan. 9. Davis was pronouced dead at the scene. COURTESY PATRICK C. MILLER
January 10, 2014

A 91-year-old Millsboro man died Jan. 9 when his car ran off the roadway and into two above-ground propane tanks at the American Legion in Millsboro before crashing into a neighboring fence and shed.

Norman B. Davis was driving a 1996 Ford Crown Victoria at 7:35 a.m. eastbound on Route 24 when he drove off the road unknown reasons, said American Legion Post 28 Commander Chuck Nimmerichter.

“I don't know how he missed hitting everything else on the property,” Nimmerichter said.

Police said an autopsy will be performed to determine whether a medical condition may have contributed to the accident.

Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said when Davis left the roadway he traveled more than 1,300 feet across an open field before striking and dislodging a 1,000-gallon propane tank. The impact pushed the first propane tank into a second 1,000-gallon next to it.

Maintenance supervisor Bud Bonte was at the facility when the crash happened. He said the car knocked into the propane tanks before crashing into a neighboring fence and shed.

“I checked the driver, but didn't get any pulse,” Bonte said. “Then I shut the valve off on one of the tanks, but the other was flipped over, and I couldn't get to it.”

Nimmerichter and Bonte said Indian River firefighters and police responded quickly to the scene to help secure it.

The American Legion was not damaged, but the propane gas left a heavy rotten-egg smell in the air. Doors were opened at the facility to help air it out; Nimmerichter said the facility will be closed until 10 a.m. Friday, Jan. 10. A membership meeting scheduled for Thursday was moved to Jan. 15, he said.

“We're going to give it a day to air out,” Bonte said. “They just want to play it safe, don't want anyone to get sick.”

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