Troopers: Man Charged With Felony Vehicular Assault After Striking Emergency Responder At Crash Scene

Delaware State Police arrested William L. Purnell, 56, of BridgevilleSaturday night after he struck a Seaford Fire Police directing traffic, according to Public Information Officer, Master Corporal Heather Pepper.

Pepper said on October 30, 20201, at approximately 10:21 p.m., Seaford Fire Department was on scene of an automobile accident on Cannon Road. An 83-year-old Seaford man was acting in a Fire Police capacity at the intersection of Cannon Road and Camp Road in Bridgeville, directing traffic. The Fire Police was wearing a high visibility traffic vest, was holding a light-up wand, and his vehicle was parked next to him with the emergency lights activated. William Purnell was driving a 2012 Dodge Journey westbound on Cannon Road approaching Camp Road. Purnell failed to see the Fire Police directing traffic in the intersection and struck him with the front center of his vehicle.

The 83-year-old victim was transported to an area hospital and admitted with serious injuries.

The investigation revealed that Purnell was driving under the influence of alcohol, according to Pepper. He was taken into custody and transported to Delaware State Police Troop 5 where he was charged with the following crimes:

  • Vehicular Assault First Degree (Felony)
  • Driving Under the Influence
  • Driving While Suspended
  • Inattentive Driving

Purnell was arraigned in the Justice of the Peace Court #3 and committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on a $3,250.00 cash bond. Purnell was not injured during the collision.

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