Forty-four-year-old Luis D. Rivera, of Ellendale, was out searching for 46-year-old Willie A. Purnell, an intellectually disabled man who left their residence unsupervised a short time earlier, around 6:20 p.m. on the night of Tuesday, Feb. 21. Rivera was driving a box truck north on North Old State Road, just north of Route 16, when he failed to see Purnell in the roadway and struck him.
Purnell, who was wearing dark clothing, was removed from the scene by EMS and transported to Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Rivera was uninjured in the collision but was transported to MMH after being assaulted by a 29-year-old male relative of Purnell, also from Ellendale.
Upon being released from the hospital, Rivera was charged with sixth offense driving under the influence of alcohol (his last DUI occurred in 2008), driving while suspended and revoked and no proof of insurance. He was committed to Sussex Correctional Institution on $15,000 cash bond.
The 29-year-old male has not been charged with a crime. The investigation into that portion of the incident is on-going.