Willis asks for road change
Local surfer Michael Willis last week lobbied the Del Mar City Council to repair the dip in the road at Coast Boulevard and 20th Street, the scene of a fatal crash involving his twin brother.
Willis said it is dangerous for drivers and homeowners along Coast Boulevard in the event that someone speeds or runs the stop sign.
The intersection is the site of an accident involving Michael Willis’ brother, Milton, which resulted in the death of 24-year-old Bradley Dillahunty in the early morning hours of June 26, 2008.
Milton Willis, who was also injured, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and was sentenced on Sept. 23 to four years in state prison.
Michael said that while speeding and impaired driving played a role in the accident, his brother and Dillahunty “would have made it” if not for the dip in the road.
“This needs to be rectified immediately to prevent this from ever occurring again due to a defective road,” Michael Willis said. “It’s very painful being a part of all this, knowing that it could have been prevented.”
City Council Attorney Leslie Devaney advised the council not to address the issue at their Oct. 5 meeting until all of the facts are known.
Devaney said that Willis was essentially notifying the city of a dangerous condition of public property, “that’s the first step in what I would call a potential legal battle.”
With this effort, Michael said he is not trying to free his brother from prison.
“His fate is sealed,” he said.
He would not comment on whether he plans to sue the city.
At around 1:40 a.m. on June 6, 2008, Milton Willis was driving 65 mph in a 25 mph zone after leaving Jimmy O’s on 15th Street. He ran the stop sign at Coast and 20th, hitting the dip with such force that it broke both Dillahunty’s and his brother’s necks, Michael Willis said.
The car was then launched 50 feet into the air and hit a palm tree. Pieces of glass are still imbedded in the palm tree’s trunk.
While speeding makes the dip dangerous, Michael Wilis said, emergency vehicles can’t go through the intersection efficiently.
He pointed out grooves and gauges in the road that show that vehicles have often “bottomed out” going through the intersection.
He also noted that the stop sign on the north side of the intersection is two feet shorter than regulation.
Michael Willis has formed a group that seeks to make “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” a law, so that people who get into a car with a drunk driver would be subject to the same legal ramifications as the driver.
He also spoke about the recent accident with Torrey Pines students that resulted in the death of Alex Capozza.
“Those four in the car with him should have spoken up,” Willis said. “The deceased (Dillahunty) was sober, my brother had drank 18 beers and he put the keys in my brother’s hands ... Friends need to watch out for each other.”