Former Delaware Rep. Ewing dies in car crash

Ewing, Ben 2008 by .

Former state Rep. J. Benjamin Ewing, R-Bridgeville, gave a big thumbs-up to his fellow House colleagues on June 30, 2008, his last day of service in the General Assembly. Photo by Dave Chambers/Delaware State News

DOVER — Former state Rep. J. Benjamin Ewing, a Bridgeville Republican, was killed in an accident Tuesday, Sen. Brian Pettyjohn, R-Georgetown, announced to a shocked Senate chamber. He was 84 years old.

Mr. Ewing died outside his house, according to Sen. Pettyjohn.

The Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is currently investigating a fatal crash involving a pedestrian that occurred late Tuesday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation indicates the incident occurred around 5:15 p.m. Tuesday  as Janet L. Bradley, 60, of Bridgeville, was driving her car west on Federalsburg Road just east of Barnes Road, state police said.

For an undetermined reason, Mr. Ewing was in the westbound lane when he was struck by the car’s front right bumper, throwing him onto the shoulder., state police said.

The car continued westbound approximately 300 feet and came to a controlled stop on the shoulder, state police said.

Mr. Ewing, who is a former Deputy Superintendent of Delaware State Police, was pronounced dead at the scene by Sussex County Paramedics, state police said.

The driver of the car, Ms. Bradley, was properly restrained and was uninjured in the crash. Federalsburg Road was closed between Barnes Road and Wesley Church Road for approximately three hours.

Gasps could be heard in the chamber when Sen. Pettyjohn spoke, and a moment of silence was held. A tribute will be presented today.

Born in 1931 and known in the legislature as Gentle Ben, Mr. Ewing spent 21 years in the House. He did not run for re-election in 2008. He was first elected in a special election in 1987 following the death of B. Bradford Barnes, then the House speaker.

“It’s been a long 21-and-a-half years, but it’s been more fun than you can imagine,” said Rep. Ewing in June 2008. “I’ll miss the camaraderie here. I know it’s difficult for people to believe, but everyone is friends up here.”

“It’s hard to think about Bridgeville without thinking about the impact Ben Ewing had on that community for decades,” Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said Tuesday night.  “From his service in the Marine Corps, to his career with the State Police, to his time as an elected Representative, Ben’s career was one of service to his country, state, and the people of the 35th District.  Ben and his family will be in my thoughts and prayers tonight and in the tough days to come.”

According to a 2008 speech made by former U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., he was a member of Delaware State Police for 20 years.

The speech was found on Capitol Words, which provides statements made by members of Congress.

“During my years as governor and in the U.S. House of Representatives, I have always enjoyed working with Rep. Ewing to assist him and the constituents of his district on issues relating to social security, highways, postal service, development, health care and the many other issues his constituents face on a daily basis,” Mr. Castle said.

“During his career in government, Ben has always put the people of his district first and worked diligently on their behalf. While the people of the 35th Representative District will elect a new representative this fall, they will have a difficult time finding a representative as qualified, humble or one who works as patiently on a daily basis to assist their each and every need.”

If anyone has any information in reference to this incident they are asked to contact Master Corporal K. Argo at (302) 703-3264.  Information may also be provided by calling Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1-800-TIP-3333, via the internet at www.delaware.crimestoppersweb.com, or by sending an anonymous tip by text to 274637 (CRIMES) using the keyword “DSP.”

Reach staff writer Matt Bittle at mbittle@newszap.com

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