VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A U.S. Coast Guardsman was killed on Saturday in a crash Virginia State Police say was caused by a wrong-way driver.
State police say a car driven by 25-year-old Melissa Hancock was going west in the eastbound lanes, near Birdneck Road. Hancock hit a 2009 Mazda head-on.
Troopers were called to the crash just after 2 a.m. on Nov. 4. The driver of the Mazda, 29-year-old Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Dill, of Suffolk, was taken to Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital where he later died.
“I loved Dan as if he were my own son,” said Dill’s father-in-law Steve Rocha. “He’s a good man.”
Dill’s family still can’t believe he’s gone.
“It was so sudden and unexpected,” Rocha added. “We are having dinner one night and then my daughter is having to make the decision to withdraw care from him the next night. It’s been devastating to say the least.”
Friday night, Dill’s family was together celebrating his wife’s 27th birthday. Daniel bought Natalie a new car.
“He was so excited,” Rocha said. “It was as if somebody had given him a car.”
Later on, Natalie went to the oceanfront to go out with friends. Dan, who didn’t drink, told his wife he’d pick her up so she didn’t have to drive.
“She called to have Dan come pick him up and he didn’t make it,” Rocha added.
Dill was on life support.
“I don’t wish that on anybody,” Rocha said. “It was probably the most difficult 24 hours of our entire lives.”
Dill spent 11 years in the Coast Guard. He was married to Natalie for the last seven.
Police arrested Hancock and charged her with DUI maiming. We’re told that charge will be upgraded to manslaughter.
According to court records, Hancock’s preliminary breath test was above the legal limit at .112. She told troopers she had two to four mixed drinks at Peabody’s nightclub an hour before the crash.
“At this point we don’t know if she was at fault or not,” Hancock’s attorney Stephen Pfeiffer said. “We simply know there was an accident and a young man lost his life and she was severely injured as well. That’s the reality that we are truly sympathetic for everyone as well.”
Dill’s family says she now has to live with knowing she made a mistake.
“Sometimes we make the wrong choices, and this young lady clearly made the wrong choice,” Rocha added.
According to a United States Coast Guard spokesperson, Dill was stationed at the Command, Control and Communications Engineering Center at Base Portsmouth.
State police say Hancock was arrested and charged with DUI/maiming and driving the wrong way. She is currently being held at Virginia Beach Jail without bond.
The case is being reviewed by the Commonwealth’s Attorney for additional charges, according to state police.
Hancock starred in the reality show, Little Women: Atlanta, according to TMZ. She moved to Virginia Beach four weeks ago to take a job at Geico.
Funeral services for Dill will be held on Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Portsmouth, located at 522 High Street.
Visitation will be held at 7 p.m. on Friday at Loving Funeral Home, located at 3325 Academy Avenue in Portsmouth.