UPDATE: Pursuit in Frederica results in crash into home, fire

Pictured is the aftermath of a vehicle crash into a residence in the 100 block of Front Street in Frederica late Sunday during a police pursuit. (Delaware State News/Craig Anderson)

FREDERICA — A fiery crash, which sent a car into a residence during a high-speed pursuit late Sunday sent three people to the hospital and brought an arrest, Harrington police spokesman Capt. Earl K. Brode said.

A fleeing vehicle driven by Michael A. Robinson, 19, of Millsboro, left Front Street near a curve and struck a home, which quickly became engulfed in flames, police said. An adult living at the home was on the porch and suffered non-life-threatening injuries, along with two adult females in the vehicle.

Police said the pursuit began at approximately 10:28 after a vehicle was seen speeding on U.S. 13 near Corn Crib Road. A patrol officer attempted to make a stop, and Capt. Brode said that a chase lasting approximately 10 to 15 minutes ensued.

A view of the second floor of the home at 118 Front St. in Frederica. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

According to Capt. Brode, the vehicle reached a speed in excess of 100 mph as a fully marked Dodge Charger police vehicle with its emergency equipment activated attempted to make a stop.

Next-door neighbor Tom Salerno said he was sitting in his computer room, when “all of a sudden, I heard a ‘bang,’ like a bomb going off.”

“I’ve seen bombs go off. I’ve seen bombs exploding. I’m a Vietnam veteran. I know what it sounds like.

“By the time I heard the noise and walked out the door, the whole house was engulfed in flames, that’s how fast it went up.”

From across the street, Pete Rager heard the same thing.

“It was like an earth-shaking bomb, and as soon as I came out, the car was already on fire, which was getting into the house,” Mr. Rager said.

“The car was hung up on the steps on its side. I turned around to look for a fire extinguisher, but by then, the whole house was engulfed. I did manage to clean up some of the debris, so the fire trucks could get in.”

Milton Elliott, who lives nearby, emerged from his home to see what he described as a “towering inferno” and said that for everyone to survive in the vehicle was “unbelievable.”

Also, Mr. Elliott said, “It was like looking at a TV show when they blow up homes. I said to myself ‘How could this be? There’s nothing but flames.’

The home at 118 Front St. in Frederica that was destroyed by fire after a vehicle being chased by police crashed into the dwelling late Sunday. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

Mr. Rager said police vehicles arrived from both directions, and three ambulances arrived on scene, as well.

A Felton police officer dropped stop sticks on U.S. 13 near Killens Pond Road to flatten the tires of the vehicle being pursued, police said. But the vehicle continued on, Capt. Brode said, and its lights were turned off as it approached Frederica before crashing in the 100 block of Front Street.

Arriving police assisted Mr. Robinson and the two other occupants from the vehicle, Capt. Brode said. Three adults and three children were at the home when the crash occurred, he said.

Mr. Salerno described his displaced neighbors (identified as the Martz family on social media) as “A good hard-working family. When they need help I give them help and when I need help, they help me. I’ll try to help them now in any way I can.

Sign posted by the front door stating the home at 118 Front St., Frederica, is condemned. (Special to the Delaware State News/Gary Emeigh)

“They are very upset and you can’t blame them. They’ve lost everything.”

The Frederica Senior Center announced Monday it will host a benefit dinner for the family on Friday, Oct. 30. The dinner at 216 Market St. will run from 4. to 6 p.m. and be served as dine-in or carry out. The menu includes spaghetti, garlic bread, salad and dessert. The cost is $10 per person.

Music will be provided from 6 to 7:30 p.m., along with silent auction items available, along with raffles and 50/50 drawings. All proceeds will benefit the family, the senior center said.

COVID-19 restrictions will apply. For more information call 335-4555.

According to a Facebook post, there will be a donation table for the family at the Frederica Volunteer Fire Company at 6 Front St. On Monday afternoon, a family member posted needed clothes sizes on the fire company’s page. A boot drive at the firehouse was also planned for today from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

While Mr. Salerno said his home has been hit by vehicles twice in 30 years, including during a fatal accident in the 1990s, the roadway itself is not to blame.

“The problem is, there’s high speed and the curve,” Mr. Salerno said. “If you go and make the turn at 25 mph, it’s no problem.

“If they try to take it at 95, 100 mph, it’s a totally different story.”

Mr. Robinson was taken from the scene to the Harrington Police Department, and police said he refused transport to the hospital following an evaluation by emergency medical services.

Mr. Robinson was arraigned via videophone at Justice of the Peace Court 7 in Dover and charged with second-degree assault, first-degree reckless endangering (eight counts), disregarding a police officer signal, first- and third-degree vehicular assault and several other traffic violations, police said. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown in default of $16,605 secured bond.

The two passengers in the vehicle were not charged, police said.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s Office assisted with the investigation, police said.

According to Capt. Brode, Delaware State Police, as well as Camden and Felton police, arrived in support, along with the Frederica, Felton, Carlisle, and Bowers Beach fire companies. The Magnolia fire company went on standby status in case other calls arrived, he said.

Capt. Brode said the investigation continues and asked anyone with information to call 398-4493.