DUI and boat towing do not mix

September 2011 News

MILLVILLE - A Pennsylvania man was charged with drunken driving after he hit a parked car with his trailered pontoon boat and then flipped the trailer and boat as he sped from police while dragging the upside down boat and trailer along the road near Millville.

Eric A. Willis, 40, of Avondale, was charged Sunday with DUI, reckless driving, resisting arrest and resisting arrest with violence, disregarding a police officer's signal, leaving the scene of a property accident, driving at an unreasonable speed, driving on the wrong side of the highway and two counts of failure to signal intention, said state Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Sgt. Gregory Rhodes.

"When you get people who behave in an unreasonable way, that puts our officers and the public at risk," Rhodes said. "Obviously, dragging a boat upside down on the roadway is a safety issue."

The incident unfolded about 6 p.m. Sunday when police responded to the Holts Landing State Park boat ramp for a domestic argument as Willis was removing his pontoon boat from the water. When a Fish & Wildlife officer arrived in a patrol boat, Willis saw him and took off in his Chevrolet Trailblazer, towing the pontoon boat. The officer notified other officers to pick him up.

Willis, meanwhile, sped along Whites Neck Road, hit the truck and left the accident scene.

He then turned onto Old Mill Road without signaling and overturned the boat trailer, but continued driving recklessly, causing more damage.

At some point, Willis bailed out of the vehicle and tried to elude the officers converging on the scene.

He was stopped by state park rangers, along with Ocean View, Bethany Beach and state police officers.

Rhodes said Willis initially resisted officers who noticed a strong odor of alcohol on his breath and tried to field test him at the scene.

He was taken to Beebe Hospital to have blood drawn and again physically resisted the officer drawing the blood. Officers had to use a stun gun on Willis, police said in court records.

Willis is being held in the Sussex Correctional Institution after failing to post $5,000 cash bail.

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