New video being released by the Dewey Beach Police Department today shows the intense moments after Ed’s Chicken & Crabs burst into flames after attempts by police to contain the blaze were unsuccessful.
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The video being released comes from one of the town’s cameras, the one mounted on the pole at Swedes Street. At 2:01:53 a.m. last Tuesday, the camera is in auto-paning mode and catches a glimpse of a 2013 Mini Cooper speeding by as it loses control around Clayton Street, crosses the median and slams into the landmark restaurant. By 2:02:30 a.m., the camera is taken off paning mode and fixed on Ed’s as officers are seen entering the structure.
Less than 20 seconds later, five seasonal police officers, a state trooper and a bystander help rescue and carry the female driver — and sole occupant — across Coastal Highway to safety.
The fire has already started. At 2:05:15 a.m., a full-time Dewey Beach officer arrives and removes a fire extinguisher from his trunk and goes into Ed’s to fight the fire. He also attempts to use a garden hose, but the water service was damaged in the crash and his attempts to stop the stubborn propane-fed fire are unsuccessful.
Police retreat, start moving their vehicles out of the way for fire apparatus. Dewey Beach PD Cpl. Greg Lynch took this photo as police waited for firefighters. This photo has already become one of the most shared photos of the summer in Dewey Beach.
Cpl. Lynch also captured this photo of the woman’s car, this 2013 Mini Cooper.
Once firefighters arrive, they start getting water on the fire around 2:16 a.m. and knock it out within about 15 minutes.
The driver of the car, says Sgt. Clifford Dempsey, has been identified as 36-year-old Michelle Small of Wyoming, Delaware. She was arrested, later taken to Beebe Hospital, treated, released and charged with DUI and related traffic charges.
Sgt. Dempsey says Small had been traveling at a high rate of speed on southbound Coastal Highway as she entered Dewey Beach. She appears to have failed to negotiate the curve at Houston Street and lost control of her Mini Cooper around Clayton Street, crossed the center median and crashed into the restaurant just north of Swedes Street.
Small does reportedly have valid insurance, but it is unclear yet how much that will benefit Ed Riggin’s business. He has already said he does not expect to rebuild. A celebration is planned August 24 for Ed’s Chicken.