Odessa deputy fire chief’s stop of DUI suspect upheld by court

WILMINGTON — An Odessa Fire Company deputy chief was considered a private citizen when stopping a driver later charged with DUI and other offenses in March, thus validating evidence found, a judge ruled last week.

The alleged incident on March 24 stemmed from a house fire response in the Middletown area when a parked company vehicle was reportedly struck by a motorist who continued north on Del. 301 (Summit Bridge Road) at 4:30 a.m.

The deputy chief was told of the supposed sequence upon arrival, received a vehicle description and headed north on 301 in an attempt to locate the vehicle, according to a seven-page Court of Common Pleas order. A red truck with a Pennsylvania license fitting the description was found, and the fire official unsuccessfully tried to pull up to it and make a stop.

Eventually, according information cited by Judge Robert H. Surles, the deputy chief activated his vehicle’s emergency lights and the driver in question pulled over to the shoulder of the road. The chief then ordered the driver to stay in his vehicle via loudspeaker, documents said.

Delaware State Police arrived and arrested Orlando L. Walker, who claimed the initial stop was unlawful.

Judge Surles pointed to no allegations that the deputy chief ever identified himself as a police officer during the stop. Also, he was not affiliated with the Office of the State Fire Marshal and thus considered a volunteer firefighter.

The judge asserted that the deputy chief was attempting to find a vehicle he believed had “hit a parked fire truck, clearly posing a threat to public safety.”

Trial is scheduled for Nov. 13.

 

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