Henry Dang, the 15-year-old Windsor Locks boy hit by a car when riding his bicycle home from a friend’s house, is one of those stories.
It would be easy to dismiss this story as simply a car vs bicyclist collision on a darkened roadway late one October night. And, not surprisingly, the driver’s lawyer has apparently made statements questioning the safety of a boy riding his bike home in the dark. Those questions seem reasonable.
However, serious and troubling allegations are being made about the driver’s behavior that night and suspicions that his police colleagues may not have investigated this accident strenuously as it involved one of their own.
Questions arose as news of the fatal accident started to become public – questions that would make any reasonable person revisit their initial impression of this fatal accident:
- The driver who hit the boy happened to be an off-duty Windsor Locks policeman. The officer’s father was Windsor Locks PD’s highest-ranking officer at the accident scene that night.
- A breathalyzer test was not administered, and apparently the driver would not consent to having his blood drawn once at the hospital.
Sadly, the boy died that night. And his family questioned whether there would be a fair investigation, considering the driver was an off-duty policeman in the town where the accident occurred.
From the Hartford Courant:
Hartford State’s Attorney Gail Hardy removed the regional team from the case two days later and turned the case over to the state police because of concerns about how the accident investigation was handled.
Perhaps she was just doing her job but I consider Ms. Hardy a hero… nothing will bring the boy back, but at a minimum, the boy’s family deserves to know the facts of the case. And if there was wrongdoing, the person responsible should be held accountable.
The driver has been arrested on several charges, including manslaughter. The investigation findings outlined in the arrest warrant make this case even more troubling:
- Despite the posted 35mph speed limit in the residential area, state police investigators estimate the driver’s speed at 73mph at the time of the accident.
- Apparently, the off-duty officer’s father refused to allow a regional accident investigator interview his son in the hospital that night.
- Witnesses are confirming that the off-duty officer had apparently been drinking for several hours up to the accident. There is surveillance video showing him drinking at a tavern up to a half-hour before the accident.
- The driver was witnessed by a nearby resident tossing something out of his car immediately after the accident – that object apparently was a bar glass. When the object was located by investigators, it still contained some beer.
There is more in the arrest warrant.
Aside from the obvious tragedy of a teen killed riding his bike home one night, Henry Dang seems to have been a good kid. In a region where the news is full of stories about kids who’ve gone astray, Henry Dang was apparently on the right path. And that just makes this accident all the more tragic.
Henry’s family wants (and deserves) answers about what happened that night. And thankfully, it appears they will get them. From the Hartford Courant:
Sources said state police are conducting a two-pronged investigation. The first part centers on the crash itself – with an emphasis on establishing a timeline of (the driver’s) actions in the hours before his car struck the teen.
The second aspect deals with how the initial investigation was handled.
My deepest sympathies to Henry Dang’s family.