A Delaware man who stole a car and caused two crashes on bridges in 2021 was sentenced to 5 to 10 years in prison Tuesday
MEDIA COURTHOUSE – A Delaware man has been sentenced to five to 10 years in a state prison for two counts involving auto theft, car crashes and fleeing police.
Donald Guilbault, 40, of Bear, Delaware, in December entered an open plea of guilty before Common Pleas Court Judge Kevin F. Kelly to theft of a motor vehicle, evading and evading police and driving under the influence, all felonies . He was sentenced on Tuesday.
Assistant District Attorney Annie Yoskoski described the indictment as part of a multi-day, ongoing issue.
High speed chase
The police and the affidavits they wrote gave the following account:
The first incident was reported by Tinicum Police Officer Kevin Gaul on May 21, 2021. Gaul spotted a burly man, later identified as Guilbault, entering the passenger side of a Dodge Caliber at the Waterfront Motel and then boarding the passenger side of a U-Haul, according to an affidavit for probable reasons, a van parked next to the car, “while.” he was looking around and seemed nervous”.
Gaul checked the vehicle identification number on the van after Guilbault entered the motel. He found that it had been stolen from Pennsauken, NJ on April 23, 2021 and that it had the wrong registration. Gaul then saw Guilbault exit the motel and drive the van out of the parking lot onto Second Street before turning onto Wanamaker Avenue.
Gaul, along with two other officers, followed the van and attempted to stop it on Route 291, but Guilbault accelerated onto Interstate 95 and fled at over 100 miles per hour. The van skidded through traffic, nearly causing a collision, then sped across a field at exit 9 and re-entered the lane.
Gaul halted the pursuit at this point, finding the pursuit too dangerous, but later confirmed Guilbault’s identity at the motel.
theft and accidents
A second affidavit by State Trooper Matthew Rossiter states that at approximately 5:56 p.m. on June 17, 2021, troopers were dispatched to the Walt Whitman Bridge area on southbound Interstate 95 to complete a report of a multi-vehicle accident create.
Witnesses reported that a man driving a white 2019 Ford Transit van swerved before causing the accident. The man, identified as Guilbault, left the van at the scene on the shoulder of the freeway with severe front damage and stole a red 2017 Nissan Altima from another driver before fleeing the scene.
The Altima owner told Rossiter she was traveling south on I-95 in the Vine Street area when she noticed the van with a blown tire was “going all over the freeway” before hitting another vehicle and hit the concrete median. She believed the van had driven that vehicle into a third damaged vehicle at the scene, but she wasn’t sure.
When the Nissan driver stopped to render assistance, she saw Guilbault get into her car and fled. The van was towed from the scene along with the two other disabled vehicles, both of which had suffered severe frontal damage. Seven occupants of those vehicles, including two teenagers, were taken to nearby hospitals.
Guilbault was arrested an hour later after much the same circumstances happened on the Commodore Barry Bridge in Chester.
State police received word around 6:57 p.m. that Guilbault was involved in the victim’s Nissan on the bridge and a passing motorist in a blue Ford Escape was trying to help him. Guilbault was taken into custody by Delaware River Port Authority police after he attempted to steal that person’s car as well.
That victim later gave a statement that Guilbault approached and told him a man was “behind him trying to kill him.” Guilbault made similar statements to investigators after his arrest, saying he felt “unsafe” and was “trying to escape.”
Guilbault had pushed past the second victim and boarded the escape where the victim’s wife and 11-day-old daughter were sitting. Guilbault was only driving a few yards when the woman screamed before the victim and another bystander could park the Escape and remove Guilbault by his arm.
Guilbault then walked to and got into another vehicle that had stopped at the scene, but was again removed by the Escape owner and a bystander. Guilbault was running down the bridge and pulling the door handles of other vehicles when Port Authority officers arrived and took him into custody.
Assistant District Attorney Annie Yoskoski said Tuesday that a blood draw showed Guilbault had a mixture of PCP, morphine and fentanyl in his bloodstream at the time. This was his fourth DUI, she said, and required at least a year mandatory minimum for that charge.
Yoskoski sought a sentence in the mid-to-high range of the sentencing guidelines, which are 48 to 60 months for robbery of a motor vehicle and 21 to 27 months for DUI. At the same time, she applied for 12 to 18 months for the escape report.
Defense attorney Stephen Ciarrocchi said his client had a history of serious mental health and substance abuse problems, which, according to Judge Kelly’s count, contributed to 42 arrests. It’s beyond a “fickle” story and into the realm of a “bad” story, Ciarrocchi conceded.
time to think
Despite this, Ciarrocchi said Guilbault has strong family support and a desire to change his life. He noted that Guilbault had already served 18 months of a 3½ to 7 year sentence in Chester County on similar charges and asked that that sentence be served concurrently with this case. The details of these offenses were not immediately available, but Yoskoski said it also involved a stolen vehicle and a high-speed chase.
“He understands what he did was wrong. He tries to take responsibility for it. He’s trying to improve and make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” Ciarrocchi said. “I understand that this has happened to him in the past, but at this point, Mr. Judge, he will be in state prison for a while. He will have some time to think and hopefully use that time wisely.”
Guilbault, along with his father on Tuesday, also apologized to the court.
“What happens is I go off my meds and I do certain things that aren’t good and I just screw it up,” he said. “I have to take my medication to get on with my life.”
Judge Kelly said he’s heard similar statements before, typically because people who need medication to stay balanced find they get better and abandon their regime, which puts them in trouble again.
“You have to break this cycle,” he told Guilbault. “I want you to look beyond that today. where will you be five years Where will you be in 10 years? Where will you be in 20 years? Will you be in the same place?”
“No, Your Honor,” Guilbault replied. “I want to make my father proud.”
In addition to the prison sentence, Guilbault was ordered to pay about $3,000 in fines, costs and lab fees, stay away from victims, attend safe driving school, and provide a DNA sample to state police. Kelly also recommended that Guilbault be treated according to current psychological and substance abuse assessments while incarcerated, and that updated assessments be conducted and post-parole recommendations followed.
Guilbault is not eligible for an early release and his penalty was calculated to run on Tuesday. Yoskoski said the insurance company had already processed property damage and hospital bills, so no refund had been ordered.