Police: Driver in Little Heaven crash was ‘under the influence of a drug’

FREDERICA — Witnesses claimed a driver arrested after a fatal crash on Del. 1 Tuesday “appeared to be falling asleep or under the influence of something” just minutes beforehand, police said in court papers.

Zachary M. Krytzer, 27, of Milton, was charged with first-degree vehicular homicide and DUI of drugs after a Verizon employee was struck and killed while standing behind his truck at approximately 1:55 p.m., according to the Delaware State Police.

Heath B. Janssen, 41, of Dover, was pronounced dead at the scene just south of Clapham Road in the Little Heaven area. He was loading equipment into the parked 2006 Ford F36 box truck when hit by a silver 2002 Mitsubishi Montero on the highway’s shoulder, police said.

The late Mr. Janssen is survived by his parents and brother, wife of 18 years and children ages 16 and 8.

Zachary M. Krytzer

Zachary M. Krytzer

In an affidavit of probable cause, police said Mr. Krytzer stated in an interview “a car swerved in his lane and caused him to veer off the west edge of the roadway and (strike) the pedestrian.”

In documents, police cited three witnesses who said “no cars were around Zachary when he almost struck the jersey concrete barrier and then veered off the west edge of the roadway striking the pedestrian that was standing on the shoulder.”

One witness reportedly had called 911 minutes earlier to notify authorities of a vehicle operating in a negligent manner, police said, and others said it was “going from one lane of travel to the next almost striking several vehicles.”

In a news release, police said the Verizon truck was parked and surrounded by cones north of the entrance to the Valero gas station at 7865 Bay Road. Prior to the collision, police said, the Montero “drifted onto the southbound shoulder and struck a mailbox and then a road reflector before striking and pinning Janssen to the rear of his work vehicle.”

According to police, “the Verizon truck was pushed forward approximately 36 feet on the southbound shoulder while the Montero continued southbound an additional 23 feet and came to a stop.”

Charged upon release

On Thursday afternoon, Mr. Krytzer was charged with felony offenses upon his release from Bayhealth-Kent General Hospital in Dover. He was arraigned through video at Justice of the Peace Court 2 in Rehoboth Beach and released after posting $20,500 secured bail.

Mr. Krytzer suffered non-life threatening injuries, police said.

In the affidavit, a police detective wrote Mr. Krytzer said he was “prescribed the drug Methadone on a daily basis and takes 50 milligrams every morning.

“Zachary also stated he smokes marijuana (cannabis) every day.”

According to authorities, the interview took place at the hospital after Mr. Krytzer was read his Miranda Rights and said he understood them.

According to the detective, Mr. Krytzer said he smoked roughly a quarter gram of marijuana on Tuesday at roughly 1 a.m.

After giving a friend a ride home from Cape Henlopen to Dover, police said, Mr. Krytzer reported he was heading south on U.S. 113 Bay Road (also identified by authorities as Del. 1) in a Mitsubishi Montero when “he was getting tired and hit the rumble strips twice.”

According to police in the affidavit, Mr. Krytzer said he “then pulled over and checked on his vehicle to make sure it was still OK to drive.”

A state trooper described as a “Drug Recognition Expert” in papers evaluated Mr. Krytzer at the hospital and reached the opinion that “Krytzer was under the influence of a drug and unable to operate a motor vehicle safely.”

A warrant to draw Mr. Krytzer’s blood for a drug test was obtained, police said.

Del. 1 southbound at Clapham Road was closed for 3½ hours as the crash was investigated and cleared, police said.

Obeying the law

On Friday, Delaware Department of Transportation spokesman Greg Layton said that while precautions have been taken in the Little Heaven work zone where the crash occurred, “those precautions only work when drivers obey the law and follow our directions …

“We can and do raise awareness about driving while intoxicated, but we cannot force the drivers to obey the law. Speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and other driver behaviors are what make work zones dangerous places to be. …

“We do try to raise awareness of these dangers — by sponsoring campaigns and posting messages to social media — and we do follow specific guidelines when setting up work zones, but ultimately drivers are responsible for the safety of the roadway.”

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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