David Strowhouer has pleaded guilty to five DUIs since 2010. During what police in Delaware County are calling his sixth, the Willistown resident crashed his vehicle head-on into another after leaving his mother’s funeral during the weekend, killing a woman.
Now, prosecutors are looking to wield a new criminal statute against him: “homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence,” an October 2018 amendment to state law. Under the statute, Strowhouer’s prior DUI pleas would give him a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years if he is convicted in the current case.
“I think it’s one of those circumstances when you look at his criminal history and think, seven years isn’t even enough, not by any stretch of the imagination,” said Delaware County District Attorney Katayoun M. Copeland. “I don’t know that he has learned his lesson yet. He’s brought tragedy to a family and, to an extent, brought tragedy to his own.”
Strowhouer, 30, was arrested Sunday in the crash, which occurred just before 9:30 the previous evening on Market Street in Upper Chichester Township, police said. He has been charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence, aggravated assault by vehicle, and related crimes, and remains in custody with his bail revoked, according to court records.
A spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office declined to identify the victims in Saturday’s crash “to protect their privacy.”
There was no indication Wednesday that Strowhouer had hired an attorney. Court records show that Strowhouer entered guilty pleas in the five DUI cases between 2010 and 2017, four of which occurred in Chester County.
In the most recent case, Strowhouer was sentenced to a one- to five-year prison term, according to Copeland. He served a little more than a year of that sentence and was paroled last fall.
“Given his past conduct of cycling in and out of jail, that gives us reason to ask the court to go above and beyond the mandatory sentencing guidelines in this case,” Copeland said. “On a day when he should’ve been with his family, he chooses to get drunk, cause a fatal crash, and then create a lie for investigators.”
Officers who responded to the crash on Saturday found a man and a woman inside a heavily damaged Subaru WRX, according to an affidavit of probable cause for Strowhouer’s arrest. The woman was unresponsive, and was later pronounced dead at the scene.
Witnesses told the officers a man had abandoned a Dodge truck that had crossed over the double yellow line of the highway and struck the Subaru head-on. While the officers searched for the truck’s driver, they were approached by Strowhouer, visibly drunk and with the smell of alcohol on his breath, the affidavit said.
He initially told the officers that he was a passenger in the truck and that it was being driven by his cousin. The two, he said, were coming from Barnaby’s bar in Havertown, where their family had gathered to mourn his mother’s death. They then decided to drive to Chester to purchase cocaine, he told investigators.
In a later interview with detectives, Strowhouer said his cousin, who lives in Puerto Rico, was driving erratically, and passed a vehicle on Market Street by veering into the left lane, a maneuver that caused the fatal crash.
However, an interview with Strowhouer’s brother revealed that Strowhouer was driving alone. Moreover, the cousin Strowhouer blamed for the crash was at his home in Puerto Rico at the time. Surveillance video confirmed the brother’s account.