The driver of a car that crashed into Ed’s Chicken and Crabs in Dewey Beach in August was sentenced to two years of probation after pleading guilty to first-offense DUI and criminal mischief.
Michelle Small, 37, of Wyoming, apologized for the accident at her June 2 sentencing.
“I am truly sorry,” she said, fighting back tears. “If I could take it back, I would.”
Besides probation, Small was ordered by Delaware Superior Court Judge E. Scott Bradley to pay a $500 fine and $241,000 in restitution - $65,000 to Ed’s owner Ed Riggin and $176,000 to the Catts family, owners of the building.
Small had been eligible to serve a maximum of two years in prison, but Bradley said there was no point in putting her in jail at this point because she expressed remorse for the incident, had no prior arrests and did not hurt anyone in the incident. Small will lose her driving privileges for two years, although her attorney, Eric Mooney, said she could get a conditional license after one year.
“I think this has made a big impression,” Bradley said.
Bradley and Deputy Attorney General Adam Gelof said Small was fortunate no one was injured or killed in the Aug. 9 accident. Security camera footage of the crash shows Small’s 2013 Mini Cooper jumping the median and crashing into Ed’s Chicken and Crabs, 2110 Coastal Hwy., which then burned down. Somehow, Small was not injured in the crash and no one was inside the building at the time. Gelof said not 15 minutes before, people were walking the streets of Dewey in that exact area. Bradley said Small had been driving 100 mph with a blood alcohol content of .22.
While Riggin was not in the courtroom for the sentencing, Gelof said the family did not think Small should serve jail time. He said the family thought work release and restitution was enough.
“It’s just a sad situation all around,” Gelof said. “I hope she turns her life around.”