Two members of the Dover Police Department have died after an early morning crash. The statistics on deadly crashes show that most drunks die in the early a.m. hours, like these two did.
Sunday, February 26, 2017 06:21PM
DOVER, DELAWARE (WPVI) -- Two members of the Dover Police Department have died after an early morning crash.
They are identified as 23-year-old Patrolman Robert DaFonte, a two-year-veteran of the Dover Police Department, and 22-year-old Cadet James Watts, a six-month member of the Special Enforcement Cadet Unit.
"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the tragic loss of two members of the Dover Police Department family. Officer Robert DaFonte and Cadet James Watts were outstanding employees and were committed to serving the citizens of Dover. As we mourn the loss of our fellow officer and cadet, we ask the community to keep their families and the members of the Dover Police Department in your thoughts," Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey said in a statement.
A mourner left flowers at the crash site where two Dover police officers were killed Sunday morning.
The crash occurred around 4:05 a.m. Sunday at Hazletville and Nault roads in Dover. They were both off-duty at the time.
Delaware State Police say DaFonte was driving a 2016 Jeep Wrangler and approaching a sharp right curve on Hazlettville Road.
Police say the Jeep traveled off the road down an embankment and struck a utility pole with the driver's side door.
The Jeep continued westbound overturning.
Watts, who was sitting in the passenger seat, was ejected from the vehicle.
The Jeep came to a stop on the passenger side.
Police say DaFonte was wearing a seatbelt, but Watts was not.
Both were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Collision Reconstruction Unit is continuing their investigation into the fatal crash.
Patrolman DaFonte was a native of Hartley; Cadet Watts was from Camden-Wyoming.
State mourns deaths of 2 Dover officers who were speeding and crashed their car into a pole.
Brittany Horn and Jerry Smith , The News Journal Published 12:23 p.m. ET Feb. 26, 2017 | Updated 13 hours ago
(Photo: Dover Police Department)
Two speeding off-duty members of the Dover Police Department were killed Sunday in an early morning crash west of Dover.
The deaths of the two men, both in their early 20s, prompted a flurry of support and condolences from not only Dover but the entire state as news of the fatal crash spread. Do not drink and drive, do not speed and drive.
Dover patrolman, Robert E. DaFonte, 23, was driving his 2016 Jeep Wrangler westbound shortly after 4 a.m. Sunday with 22-year-old James D. Watts inside his vehicle, said Master Cpl. Gary Fournier, a spokesman with Delaware State Police.
DaFonte, of Hartly, and Watt, a cadet with the Dover Police Department, were headed westbound on Hazlettville Road, east of Nault Road, approaching a sharp right curve, Fournier said. Neither were working at the time of the crash, according to Dover police.
The Jeep failed to make the curve in the road and drove off the south side of the two-lane roadway, down an embankment where it struck a utility pole, the driver’s side door taking the brunt of the impact, Fournier said. The Jeep then overturned, ejecting Watts before coming to rest on the passenger side of the vehicle.
Officer Robert DaFonte and Cadet James Watts of the Dover Police Department were killed in an off-duty crash on Hazlettville Road on a right curve in the road just before Nault Road in West Dover at about 4:05 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 26. (Photo: Doug Curran, DOUG CURRAN/SPECIAL TO THE NEWS)
DaFonte, who was properly restrained, was pronounced dead at the scene, Fournier said. Watts, of Camden-Wyoming, was not properly restrained and also was pronounced dead at the scene.
Fournier said there was no evidence to indicate the involvement of drugs or alcohol (yeah, sure, buddy. Drunks typically speed and die in the a.m. hours. The Jeep came off the road either because he was speeding or because he was too drunk to see the sharp curve and adjust his course.) The state Division of Forensic Science will conduct full autopsies, as well as toxicology reports, he said, as is protocol for all fatal crashes.
DaFonte's aunt, Sue Monaco, stopped at the crash scene Sunday, needing to see where her nephew died. She called the crash a tragedy for both families involved, adding that the Dover Police Department is "such a family."
Roses mark the place where two off-duty Dover police officers died in a crash early Sunday morning. (Photo: JERRY SMITH/THE NEWS JOURNAL)
"I didn't know anybody who didn't like Robert," Monaco said. "He had a blithe spirit."
DaFonte, who had served with the Dover Police Department for two years, went out of his way for others, according to his aunt. After hearing she needed a new roof, he arranged for a group of his friends to go to her house and get it done for her, she said.
As a police officer, he was particularly proud of his marksmanship skills, Monaco added.
"He loved being a police officer," she said.
Dover Police Department Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey asked the community Sunday to keep the families of the two DPD members in their thoughts. DaFonte was a two-year-veteran of the force, while Watts was a six-month member of the Special Enforcement Cadet Unit, which assists the police department in enforcing ordinances, completing arrest paperwork and other duties.
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"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that
"It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the tragic loss of two members of the Dover Police Department family," Mailey said in a release. "Officer Robert DaFonte and Cadet James Watts were outstanding employees and were committed to serving the citizens of Dover."
Master Cpl. Mark Hoffman, a spokesman for the city police department, said no vigils or services have been planned by the department at this time.
The crash remains under investigation by the state police Collision Reconstruction Unit. Hazlettville Road between Apple Grove School Road and Nault Road was closed for about three hours while the crash was investigated and cleared.