Motorist who crashed into Dewey Beach eatery could face more charges

DEWEY BEACH — A 36-year-old Wyoming woman could face more serious charges connected to a vehicle crash into a restaurant after initial counts against her were dismissed in a lower court, officials said Friday.

Michelle Small had alcohol-related charges pending in Justice of the Peace Court 14 after she allegedly lost control of her car and crashed into Ed’s Chicken and Crabs Restaurant on Aug. 9, igniting a fire that destroyed the business.

DUI, reckless driving, and failure to have insurance identification in possession charges were dismisssed on Aug. 16 before Magistrate Larry Sipple, according to authorities.

The Delaware Department of Justice said investigating prosecutors determined an indictment in Superior Court was warranted due to the severe nature of the incident, including approximately $75,000 in damages that may involve significant restitution.

The DOJ plans to seek an indictment in September, noting that possible additional charges could be brought.

Dewey Beach Police earlier described Ms. Small as allegedly “traveling at a high rate of speed” on southbound Del. 1 when she “lost control of her 2013 Mini Cooper on Clayton Street” at approximately 2:05 a.m.

According to authorities, Ms. Small’s vehicle traveled roughly half a block after crossing a center median and eventually crashing in the 2200 block of Del. 1 at Sweed Street.

Investigation determined that the crash caused a gas leak from a severed propane tank, sparking a fire in the restaurant.

Officials described the blaze as engulfing “the entire building” and destroying it completely. The building was unoccupied at the time.

Ms. Small was pulled from the vehicle just moments before the building fire began, authorities said. She was treated for minor injuries at the scene and taken into custody by Dewey Beach PD for a DUI investigation.

No other injuries were reported.

According to the DOJ, Ms. Small had speeding convictions in 2000 and 2009, and inattentive driving in 2001.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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