Back in February of last year, a serial drunk driver crashed his pickup truck into another vehicle, killing 45-year-old Deana Eckman. The driver entered an open guilty plea on August 15th, 2019 for homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence and related offenses.
It took six drunken convictions—the final one that killed Eckman—to get a prison sentence that would keep David Strowhouer off the road for good. Strowhouer, 30, pleaded guilty to murder of the third degree, two counts of aggravated assault, accidents involving death or injury, DUI and driving with a suspended license for the February 16th crash. Those offenses carried a maximum penalty of 85 years in prison.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Dan McDevitt said, “this man has caused a lot of damage to the Eckman and DeRosa families, and we expect that to be reflected in a lengthy period of incarceration in a state institution.”
At the time of the deadly crash, Strowhouer had been on probation for one of his prior DUI convictions. Delaware County Judge Mary Brennan sentenced the 30-year-old Newtown Square man to 25 to 51 years in prison. This sentence was higher than the 21½ to 43 years requested earlier during the hearing at the Media courthouse.
The crash occurred at approximately 9:30 p.m., when Strowhouer crossed a double yellow line and slammed head-on into the 2019 Subaru WRX Chris and Deana Eckman were driving. Authorities alleged that Strowhouer’s blood-alcohol level at the time was 0.199, and that he had traces of cocaine, diazepam and marijuana in his system.
In a video taken at 8:51 p.m., Strowhouer could be seen falling down at some outside steps before staggering toward his truck and getting into the driver’s seat. As the truck reversed, Strowhouer nearly struck a man and a parked car in the driveway before driving off.
Strowhouer headed southbound on Route 452, tailgating a white minivan. At the same time, the Eckmans were heading northbound on Route 452, approaching a railroad bridge over the crest of a hill. As the white minivan reached the bridge, Strowhouer applied pressure to the gas pedal, getting up to a speed of 78 mph, and crossed the double-yellow lines. His car collided head-on with the Eckman family’s Subaru.
Sadly, Deana Eckman was killed instantly from blunt force trauma. Her husband, Chris, suffered a broken pelvis.
Strowhouer initially fled the scene, but later he approached an officer conducting a search of the area and said he had been a passenger in the truck. Also, he stated that he had been wearing his seat belt. Further investigation revealed that the passenger-side seatbelt was locked in position, indicating it was not in use at the time of the crash.
During the hearing, Strowhouer addressed the Eckman family in tears saying he wished he could undo what he had done and was sorry. In an interview later, attorney McDevitt stated that Strowhouer “never should have been on the road. He refused to be rehabilitated, and he continued to drink and drive, and sadly, someone had to lose their life before he’s off the street for decades.”
As the case proceeded, Strowhouer’s attorney, Brian Malloy, argued that Strowhouer was capable of being rehabilitated and asked for a sentence of 10 to 43 years. In response, Judge Brennan stated to the weeping defendant that he was here because of his actions, and the decisions he made have determined his destiny.
Deana’s husband was satisfied with the sentence given, stating, “he can do his remorseful stuff all he wants, but he had plenty of chances.”
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