Police: Driver Looking For Missing Disabled Man Runs Him Over, 1 Dead, 1 Arrested

Ellendale – The Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit is investigating a fatal crash that claimed the life of an Ellendale man as he was walking along the road, according to Public Information Officer, Master Corporal Gary Fournier.

Luis D Rivera
Luis D Rivera

Fournier said that the incident occurred around 6:19 p.m. Tuesday February 21, 2017 as Luis D. Rivera, 44 of Ellendale, was operating a 1986 Ford F350 box truck northbound on North Old State Road, just north of Beach Hwy (SR16).

Willie A. Purnell, 46 of Ellendale, who is intellectually disabled, left his nearby residence unsupervised and was walking on North Old State Road in an unknown direction, according to Fournier.

Rivera, who left the same residence a short time later to search for Willie Purnell, failed to see him in the roadway and struck him with the front left of his vehicle, projecting him into a grassy ditch on the west side of the roadway, said Fournier. The box truck came to a controlled stop just north of the impact area.

Willie Purnell, who was wearing dark colored clothing, was removed from the scene by EMS and transported to Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital (MMH) where he was pronounced dead.

Luis Rivera was uninjured in the collision, although he was transported to MMH after he was assaulted by a 29-year-old male from Ellendale, who is a relative of the pedestrianm according to Fournier.

Fournier said that upon being released from the hospital, Rivera was charged with 6th Offense Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Driving While Suspended and Revoked, and No Proof of Insurance.

He was arraigned at JP3 and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $15,000.00 cash bond.

Image Credits: Delaware State Police