Ohio man charged with DUI in car fire on Del. 1

 

SMYRNA — A 21-year-old Ohio man was charged with DUI and other alleged offenses after authorities responded to a reported vehicle fire on Del. 1 Wednesday night, police said.

A portion of Del. 1 just south of Exit 114 was shut down completely for approximately 30 minutes as the Delaware State Police and Smyrna Fire Department went to the scene at about 5:55 p.m., according to authorities.

Upon investigation, police found a 1999 Acura CL driven by Christopher T. Nagel, of Grafton, Ohio, had caught fire while moving, entered the median and momentarily stopped.

Christopher  T. Nagle

Christopher
T. Nagle

An arriving trooper and witnesses said they saw the vehicle moving as the blaze continued, state police spokesman Master Cpl. Gary Fournier said in a news release.

A closer look found the driver appeared to be “unresponsive with his foot still on the accelerator,” Cpl. Fournier said. The trooper and a bystander took a shovel from a patrol vehicle and smashed the front passenger windshield in an attempt to remove the driver, authorities said.

Police said the driver then became alert and allegedly put the vehicle in reverse. As the fire continued in the median, the trooper continued to command the driver to stop and exit, which he eventually did, authorities said.

“He eventually stopped the car and exited but became evasive as the trooper was attempting to take him into custody,” Cpl. Fournier said.

“Several witnesses intervened and held down the suspect until Mr. Nagel could be placed in custody.”

Troopers transported Mr. Nagel from the scene to Troop 9 in Odessa; he was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, first-degree reckless endangering, resisting arrest, criminal mischief, failure to have insurance and driving an unsafe motor vehicle. He was arraigned at Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover and released on $6,025 unsecured bond.

Police said Mr. Nagel, presumed innocent unless proven guilty, did not own the vehicle, which was totaled and towed from the scene.

The situation created dangerous roadway conditions for vehicles in the vicinity, police said.

“Yes, (there was) danger due to the car (that) could have entered into the oncoming traffic,” Cpl. Fournier said.

According to police in an affidavit of probable cause, the misdemeanor criminal mischief charge came after Mr. Nagel’s alleged actions in a state police detention room, which caused an approximate $100 cost to sanitize the area.

Also, police said in court documents, “(Mr. Nagel) was clearly driving an unsafe motor vehicle that was currently on fire caused by a dragging muffler.”

Police alleged in charging documents that “three ‘Coors’ beer cans were located in the center console next to (the driver); along with an opened Coors beer can as well, located in plain view.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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