A Wyoming woman has been charged after the car she was driving crashed into Ed’s Chicken and Crabs in Dewey Beach Aug. 9, setting off a fire that destroyed the popular restaurant.
Michelle Small, 36, was charged with driving under the influence and other driving offenses after she drove her car at a high rate of speed into Ed’s on Route 1, Dewey police said. Small was driving a 2013 Mini Cooper southbound on Route 1 at 2:05 a.m. when she lost control, crossed the median and plowed into Ed’s. The crash was captured on a nearby security camera.
The crash severed a propane line in the restaurant and gas leaked, which then caught on fire, said Sgt. Clifford Dempsey of the Dewey Beach Police Department. Three seasonal Dewey Beach Police officers were at the scene at the time of the crash, and they quickly pulled Small out of the car before the restaurant went up in flames, he said. No one was in the building at the time of the fire.
A Delaware State Police officer and a civilian were also at the scene of the fire that the Delaware Fire Marshal’s Office said caused $75,000 in damage to the restaurant.
Small was taken to Dewey’s police department for a driving under the influence investigation, but she became unresponsive and was transported to Beebe Healthcare by the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company. She was treated and released from Beebe Healthcare, Dempsey said.
Dewey resident Rob Jones, co-owner of Delaware Jet Ski Fishing, lives next door to Ed’s, also known as Chicken Ed’s. He said he was awakened when he heard the crash.
“My alarm for the yard started going off nonstop. I look at my cameras, and it was like daylight. I looked outside and saw the flames 40 feet in the air, 20 feet from my house,” he said. “I was worried for my jet skis, house, cat, everything I have worked for is in my house.”
Jones said the driver is lucky to walk away from the crash. Jones’ security camera fixed outside his house captured the crash. The footage is being reviewed by Dewey police as evidence, but was posted to Facebook and shows a car careening down the street with sparks flying in its wake before it crashes into Chicken Ed’s.