Police identify woman killed in Del. 1 crash

An elderly Maryland woman was killed and two Maryland men were seriously injured in a head-on crash Tuesday morning on Del. 1 near Smyrna that forced the closure of the roadway for more than three hours and snarled alternate routes.

The victim was identified as 78-year-old Brigitte Best, of Berlin.

The crash occurred about 10:48 a.m. in the southbound lanes of the highway near Black Diamond Road, said Cpl. John Day, who rolled up on the crash while headed to Dover.

An investigation Investigators determined that Best was traveling north on Del. 1 when she lost control of her 2008 Nissan Altima on freshly snow-covered roadway and veered in a northwesterly direction across the grassy median separating the north and southbound lanes and collided head-on with a 2002 Ford Express van.

The elderly woman, who was found trapped inside her vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene by New Castle County paramedics, said Assistant Paramedic Chief Richard D. Krett.

Best was wearing a seat belt, Day said.

The driver of the van, identified as Leonardo Cruz, 25, and passenger Rene Vazquez, 42, both of Elkton, were treated on the scene by paramedics for serious injuries and taken to Christiana Hospital for treatment.

Both men were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, Day said.

The southbound lanes of the roadway were closed and traffic was diverted onto Del. 299 and U.S. 13, triggering jams along those routes.

Initially, only one northbound lane was open for traffic as emergency crews used the left lane to get to the victims.

Emergency crews used crossovers to turn around southbound traffic stuck on the highway allowing troopers to investigate the accident. investigators could investigate the fatality.

Nearly five years ago, cable guard rails were installed along a five-mile stretch of Del. 1 from the Del. 299 exit to the U.S. 40 exit in an effort to prevent crossover crashes and save lives. However, none of these cable guard rails had been installed in the area of Tuesday’s fatal crash.

It was not known Tuesday if DelDOT intended to continue the project, which was funded in 2010 through $748,678 federal grant. money.

DelDOT spokeswoman Sandy Roumillat said information on whether or not the project would be continuing would not be available until Wednesday.

The crash remains under investigation and No charges have been filed and the crash remains under investigation.

Contact Terri Sanginiti at (302) 324-2771 or tsanginiti@delawareonline.com.