David Strowhouer had a potent combination of alcohol, cocaine, Valium, and marijuana in his system when he got behind the wheel of his father’s Dodge pickup last month and caused a fatal crash that forever upended two families, according to testimony Thursday in district court.
The 30-year-old took the vehicle against his family’s will, speeding out of his brother’s driveway and onto the road after drinking on the day of his mother’s funeral, relatives said during a preliminary hearing.
Strowhouer is charged with homicide by vehicle while driving under the influence in the death of Deana Eckman, 45, of Brookhaven. Eckman was on her way home from a family party with her husband when Strowhouer veered into their lane in Upper Chichester Township while trying to pass a van and struck her head-on.
The DUI charge is Strowhouer’s sixth in nine years. He has five earlier convictions.
Deputy District Attorney Daniel McDevitt added additional charges Thursday, including third-degree murder and aggravated assault by vehicle. Those charges are related to the injuries he said Strowhouer caused to Christian Eckman, Deana’s husband, who had tried, in vain, to steer their Subaru WRX out of the truck’s path.
Eckman, still supporting himself on crutches as he heals from a broken pelvis, glared at Strowhouer throughout the proceedings Thursday, his face a mask of rage and grief.
Judge David R. Griffin held Strowhouer for trial on all charges, and scheduled an arraignment in county court in Media for next month. Strowhouer’s attorney, Brian Malloy, declined to comment afterward.
During the nearly two-hour hearing, Strowhouer’s older brother and sister-in-law described their efforts to keep him away from the vehicle. William Strowhouer III said their family had spent the majority of that Sunday mourning his mother, whose funeral was held that morning. After the ceremony, the family went to Barnaby’s in Havertown for an informal memorial service, where they reminisced and watched home movies.
They returned to William Strowhouer’s home in Newtown Square. Everything seemed fine, they said, until they couldn’t find David Then they heard the engine of their father’s truck turn over.
William Strowhouer ran outside to see his brother sitting in the truck’s driver’s seat, and talked to him for a few minutes about their mother’s death. William Strowhouer testified that he expected his brother to follow him back into the house.
He didn’t, and Margaret Strowhouer watched from her living-room window as David Strowhouer nearly backed the truck into her husband. He then sped off, and the couple and their friends frantically called and texted him.
“We begged him to come back, and he laughed it off,” she said Thursday, her voice thick with tears. “We begged him to stop what he was doing.”
Instead, Strowhouer drove for about 15 minutes, eventually causing the fatal crash. Data from a recorder inside the vehicle revealed that he was going about 69 miles per hour when he struck the Subaru, according to investigators.