Wyoming woman crashes car, sparks inferno at popular Dewey restaurant

Ed’s Chicken and Crabs Restaurant had been a Dewey Beach staple since the late 1970s. A fire sparked by a car crash burned the restaurant down early Tuesday morning. (Submitted photos)

Ed’s Chicken and Crabs Restaurant has been a Dewey Beach staple since the late 1970s. A fire sparked by a car crash burned the restaurant down early Tuesday morning. (Submitted photos)

DEWEY BEACH — A 36-year-old Wyoming woman was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol and other motor vehicle offenses after she lost control of her car and slammed into popular Ed’s Chicken and Crabs Restaurant in Dewey Beach early Tuesday, sparking a fire that destroyed the business.

Sgt. Clifford Dempsey, spokesman for the Dewey Beach Police Department, said that Michelle Small was “traveling at a high rate of speed” on southbound Del. 1 when she lost control of her 2013 Mini Cooper at Clayton Street at around 2:05 a.m.

A 36-year-old Wyoming woman was charged after her car plowed into Ed’s Chicken and Crabs Restaurant in Dewey Beach early Tuesday.

A 36-year-old Wyoming woman was charged after her car plowed into Ed’s Chicken and Crabs Restaurant in Dewey Beach early Tuesday.

Ms. Small’s car crossed the center median, traveled about half a block and collided into the restaurant in the 2200 block of Del. 1 at Swede Street, police said.

The collision caused a propane line in the restaurant to be severed and a gas leak occurred, sparking a fire. Firefighters from the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Company were assisted by Lewes, Indian River and Bethany Beach fire companies and extinguished the blaze.

Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Harry R. Miller said “Firefighters arrived on scene to find heavy fire showing from the structure. No injuries occurred and the building was not occupied at the time of the fire.”

Sgt. Dempsey said that three Dewey Beach police officers, a Delaware State Police trooper and a civilian were in the area at the time of the crash and entered the structure.

They were able to break the driver’s side window of the car and Ms. Small was extricated from the vehicle just moments before the building caught fire.

Sgt. Dempsey said the fire “engulfed the entire building and is presumed to be an entire loss.” Damages are estimated to be around $75,000.

Ms. Small was treated at the scene for minor injuries by the Rehoboth Beach Volunteer Fire Department. She was then released to police custody and transported to the Dewey Beach Police Department for a DUI investigation.

Sgt. Dempsey said that while Ms. Small was in custody she became unresponsive and was taken to Beebe Medical Center in Lewes by the Rehoboth Beach Fire Department.

The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating the fire.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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