January 15, 2013 at 5:13 pm EST | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Rehoboth bartender guilty in fatal crash
Brian Meegan, gay news, Washington Blade

Brian Meegan was found guilty of first-degree vehicular homicide in the death of a fellow gay man on July 1. (Photo courtesy Delaware State Police)

A former bartender at the L Bar, a popular gay bar in Rehoboth Beach, Del., pleaded guilty last week to vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated in connection with an accident in July in which the vehicle he was driving struck and killed a bicyclist.

Delaware State Police said the accident occurred minutes after then bartender Brian C. Meegan, 37, and the man he hit, PNC Bank loan officer Russell “Rusty” Henman, 44, left the L Bar about 2 a.m. on July 1, 2012.

Meegan, who was released on $27,000 bail on July 3, two days after he was arrested, was placed in handcuffs and taken into custody following his guilty plea in Delaware Superior Court in Georgetown, Del., according to a report by the Cape Gazette newspaper.

He will remain in custody until his sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 22. His attorney, John Sandy, told the Cape Gazette he expects Meegan to serve at least 20 months in jail and that he faces a possible maximum sentence 16 and a half years.

A statement released by State Police said the accident took place a short distance away from the L Bar, where Rehoboth Avenue merges with Delaware Highway 1. The statement says police believe Meegan was intoxicated while driving his 2003 Jeep Wrangler.

“The front of Meegan’s Jeep struck the rear of Henman’s bike causing him to be ejected onto the hood of the Jeep,” the statement says. “Henman was carried approximately 400 feet until the Jeep struck a curb and stopped, throwing Henman onto the roadway. He was pronounced dead at the scene,” the statement says.

Police charged Meegan with first degree vehicular homicide, leaving the scene of a collision resulting in death, driving under the influence of alcohol, failure to report an accident resulting in injury or death, no proof of motor vehicle insurance and inattentive driving.

“He’s been extremely remorseful. He wanted to do the right thing,” the Cape Gazette quoted Sandy as saying in discussing Meegan’s decision to plead guilty.

Steve Elkins, executive director of Camp Rehoboth, an LGBT community center and advocacy organization, said the accident saddened many in Rehoboth’s LGBT community.

“The death of Rusty Henman was a tragic accident made even more so by the fact that Brian Meegan, the driver, is also part of our community,” he said.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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