CROMWELL, Conn. — Two people, including a state representative, are dead after a fiery wrong-way collision on Route 9 in Cromwell.
The crash killed State Rep. Quentin Williams (D-Middletown).
The crash happened just before 1 a.m. in the area of exit 18. According to officials, Williams was driving in the left lane on the southbound side of the highway in the area of Exit 18 on-ramp.
Police said a second vehicle drove north in the southbound lane and struck Williams' vehicle head-on.
After coming to a rest on the left shoulder, Williams' vehicle erupted in flames, state police said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The second vehicle, the one driving the wrong way, came to a final stop in the grass center median, officials said.
The driver of the second vehicle was also pronounced dead at the scene. The second victim was identified as 27-year-old Kimede Mustafaj of Manchester.
It was not immediately clear why Mustafaj was driving the wrong way. The crash remains under investigation.
Connecticut State Police had this warning for drivers.
"Oftentimes, we know the hours are between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m., so we often find operators who are under the influence," said Sgt. Christine Jeltema with CT State Police.
Connecticut DOT data shows fatal wrong-way crashes since 2018
Williams' close friend, Kim Hogan, said he loved education. Just a few months ago, he spoke enthusiastically at Vinal Technical High School about money going to the manufacturing program at Tunxis and Middlesex Community Colleges.
"To be able to educate students here in our town, in our city, and be able to have him get full employment immediately after a certificate program just enlightened him," said Hogan, interim CEO of Middlesex Community College.
Reactions also poured in from those who knew him personally and professionally.
Middletown Mayor Ben Florsheim said in a statement:
“Rep. Williams truly embodied the phrase larger than life. His laugh, smile, and presence were felt in every space shared with him. His passing is a true loss for our community. A light has been dimmed today. His dedication to fighting for equity, education, worker’s rights, and justice in all its forms is irreplaceable, and while we are heartbroken, the community he loved so much—and where Q was loved so much in return—will continue the fight.”
Gov. Ned Lamont announced he's directing the state flag to be lowered to half-staff in honor of Williams.
“This is devastating news, and I am incredibly saddened by this tragedy,” Lamont said. “Quentin had an infectiously optimistic personality, and he absolutely loved having the opportunity to represent his lifelong home of Middletown at the State Capitol. Public service was his passion, and he was always advocating on behalf of the people of his hometown. He was a genuine person with a genuine soul, and he will be missed. My prayers are with his family, including his wife Carrissa and his mother Queen, as well as his friends and colleagues in the General Assembly.”
Carmen Chau is an anchor and reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter.
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