2 local police officers killed in overnight crash

- There’s a lot of grief in Delaware after not one but two members of the Dover Police Department were killed in a crash, overnight.

The Delaware State Police Collision Reconstruction Unit reports in its preliminary investigation that just after 4am Sunday, Patrolman Robert E. DaFonte “was driving a 2016 Jeep Wrangler westbound on Hazlettville Road, east of Nault Road, approaching a sharp right curve. The operator failed to negotiate the curve and traveled off the south side of the roadway down an embankment and struck a utility pole with the driver’s side door. The Jeep continued westbound overturning and ejecting the right front passenger before coming to a stop on the passenger side.”

DaFonte, who was wearing his seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene.

That passenger was Cadet James D. Watts, who “was not properly restrained and was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Dover police say DaFonte, 23 of Hartly, was a two-year-veteran of the Dover Police Department.

Watts, 22 of Camden-Wyoming, was 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,” said Dover police Deputy Chief Marvin Mailey. “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.”

Hazlettville Road between Apple Grove School Road and Nault Road was closed for approximately three hours while the crash was investigated and cleared.

Delaware State Police are handling the investigation.

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