Rehoboth man arrested after pursuit

Timothy J. DrabicTimothy J. DrabicA Rehoboth Beach man was arrested last week following a high-speed pursuit involving seven law-enforcement agencies.

According to police, around 4:30 a.m. on Dec. 30, a black SUV was observed traveling northbound in the southbound lane of Coastal Highway in Ocean City, Md. It was reported that the SUV was driving at speeds up to 100 mph.

“This individual placed a lot of people in danger. In particular, one Ocean City officer that, apparently, he swerved toward that officer and came very close to striking their marked police car at a very high rate of speed,” said Ocean View Police Chief Ken McLaughlin. “Fortunately, nobody was hurt there, and we’re glad we were able to take him in without any injuries.”

Ocean City Police officers initiated a pursuit and chased the vehicle northbound into Delaware. The SUV, operated by Timothy J. Drabic, 54, of Rehoboth Beach, traveled north on coastal highway to Bethany Beach, and then turned west on Atlantic Avenue (Route 26), headed into Ocean View.

Delaware law-enforcement officials were alerted to the pursuit via Sussex County dispatch, as OCPD officers discontinued their pursuit shortly after crossing the state line into Delaware.

McLaughlin said the Ocean City, Fenwick Island, South Bethany, Bethany Beach, Ocean View and Dagsboro police departments, as well as Delaware State Police, all participated in the pursuit.

McLaughlin said working with other area law-enforcement agencies is key in policing.

“When we have a pursuit like that — any pursuit, realistically — we’re going through three or four or five jurisdictions in a matter of moments.”

The Ocean View officers who were on duty at the time observed Drabic traveling westbound on Route 26 — which has a 35-40 mph speed limit — at speeds topping 85 mph.

“In speaking with the officers, this gentleman we were pursuing was traveling at a very, very high rate of speed. He, without a doubt, was creating a hazard to himself and to the officers and anyone else on the roadway,” said McLaughlin. “Thank God nobody got hurt and he was taken into custody without anyone being injured. All in all, it was a successful pursuit.”

As one OVPD officer pursued the vehicle, a second was able to intercept the pursuit at Armory and Vines Creek roads in Dagsboro. The second officer deployed Stop Sticks (tire-deflation devices) in the SUV’s path, successfully deflating the vehicle’s front left tire. The SUV stopped on Clayton Street in Dagsboro, where Ocean View officers, assisted by several Delaware State Police troopers, took the driver into custody.

“Pursuits, by their nature, are inherently dangerous,” said McLaughlin. “We don’t like them. We hate pursuits just because they are so dangerous. We’re fortunate in this particular area that we don’t have a high frequency of police pursuits.”

McLaughlin said it is imperative to keep officers safe during such a pursuit, which is done through training and equipment.

“We provide our officers with good solid training and equipment. The vehicles we’re operating are not standard civilian vehicles that we slapped a light bar and some decals on. These are pursuit-rated vehicles that are specifically designed to perform well in those conditions.”

Ocean View police charged Drabic, 54, of Rehoboth Beach with DUI, Disregarding a Police Officers Signal to Stop and Driving a Vehicle at Unreasonable or Imprudent Speeds.

Drabic was released on $2,500.50 unsecured bail pending a preliminary hearing, which was set for Jan. 5 (after Coastal Point press time) in the Court of Common Pleas.

“He’s going to have to answer for his actions and, hopefully, he’ll be held accountable. And, subsequently, hopefully, this serves as a deterrent for others that may be considering driving and fleeing from the police.”