Car Crashes Into Church, Man Blames Wife
Wednesday, December 30, 2009 9:13 am
Darrell Frank Darda of 4822 Hollow Springs Road was charged with DUI, failure to notify authorities immediately following an accident and driving without a license following an investigation by deputies Eric Moss and Patrick Fann.
Moss and Fann were dispatched to Simmons Methodist Church on Dec. 24, arriving on the scene at 8:59 p.m., in reference to someone hitting the church with their car. They interviewed Scott Clark, pastor of the church, who said he was at his home and he heard a loud noise outside.
Clark said he went outside and saw a white van driving off. He then walked next door to the church and saw that the railing and one of the supports for the awning had been hit and had broken loose from the foundation. The deputies advised Clark that the white van was driven by witnesses to the accident and was en route back to the church.
When witnesses Douglas Logan and Ashly Tinker returned to the scene each stated they were traveling south on Hollow Springs Road when they met a vehicle that was coming toward them in their lane of traffic. Logan said he came to a stop and the driver of the other vehicle swerved to miss him.
Logan said he turned around and followed the vehicle, which continued to swerve in and out of his lane of traffic and then it pulled onto Simmons Church where the driver attempted to turn around and hit the railing and awning support, breaking them both free from the church.
Logan told the deputies the interior light of the vehicle he was following was on and he could clearly see that the driver was the only occupant and that he was male and wearing a baseball cap.
After hitting the church, the driver then backed up and and drove around the front of the church and proceeded south on Hollow Springs Road to a house that was under construction and drove around the house. Logan said his vehicle got stuck in the mud at that location, but that he saw the driver of the other car drive to a mobile home that was just down the road.
Logan said he freed his vehicle and drove toward the mobile home and pulled in the driveway at 4822 Hollow Springs Road where he saw Darda get out of the driver's seat and then a woman came out of the mobile home and almost fell down the front steps. At this time Logan called dispatch to inform them that he was at that address and was advised to return to the church and await deputies.
Moss and Fann then went to 4822 Hollow Springs and found the vehicle matching the description and plate number given to them. Upon investigation they found damage to the left front bumper of the vehicle.
While Deputy Fann was knocking on the front door, Deputy Moss observed Darda through the the kitchen window and he did not have a phone in his hand but when he answered the door he had a phone to his right ear, but did not appear to be talking to anyone.
Fann asked Darda to get off the phone so that he could speak with him. Fann asked Darda if he had been driving the vehicle in the driveway and Darda stated no, his wife had been. Fann asked if Mrs. Darda had crashed the vehicle and Mr. Darda stated no. Fann then inquired as to how the damage was done to the front of the vehicle and Mr. Darda stated that she (his wife) hit a deer.
While attempting to question Mrs. Darda, the deputies observed she appeared to be under the influence of some substance due to the fact she had trouble comprehending the questions, her speech was slurred, and she had trouble standing. They also observed that she was on the couch in her pajamas.
At that time the deputies informed Mr. Darda that the church up the road had been hit and there were witnesses saying it was the vehicle in their driveway that was involved.
Fann advised the Dardas that they needed to go back to the church and asked Mr. Darda if he could drive his wife and if he had a valid driver's license. Darda advised he could and did. Fann did not confirm that Darda had a valid license.
While en route, the deputies noticed Darda was having trouble keeping the vehicle in his lane of traffic and that the interior light was on.
Upon arrival, Fann spoke with Darda and Clark about the damage and Darda stated he was with his wife when it happened and that he worked in construction and he would fix the damage.
Based upon statements from the witnesses, the deputies determined that Mr. Darda was the sole occupant and driver of the vehicle. Mr. Darda was again questioned but continued to insist his wife was the driver even after being confronted with the witness statements.
The deputies then escorted Mr. Darda inside the church and administered three different sobriety tests on him, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagnus test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One Leg Stand Test, all of which he failed.
Deputy Fann advised Darda that he was under arrest for DUI, to which Darda stated that Fann could not arrest him for DUI because he had not been drinking. Fann advised Darda that DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol and / or drugs. Darda was read the implied consent form and he agreed to give blood for a blood alcohol content test.
Darda was taken to the jail and booked. A relative drove the vehicle to the Dardas from the church.