Note: This article is a collaboration between Oxford Patch and the Valley Independent Sentinel. And police audio of the crash is attached to this article as a YouTube video, and a map of the route the car was traveling on Saturday night is also attached as a jPeg file.
OXFORD - A Seymour police officer had been following a Ford Mustang Friday night because the car had illegal neon lights and had passed another vehicle on Route 67.
That information comes from a police source familiar with the incident, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The car didn't stop, drove about a mile into Oxford and then crashed into a building on Old State Road, police said in a statement Saturday.
One of the passengers in the Mustang -- 15-year-old Brandon Giordano of Oxford -- was killed in the .
Two other people in the car were injured. The driver, 19-year-old Eric Ramirez, was listed in serious condition at Yale-New Haven Hospital Monday afternoon.
A second passenger, Dion Major, was treated and released with minor injuries.
The car hit an embankment and went airborne before it hit the side of the building. The car -- a convertible -- landed upside down on the ground.
State police are investigating the crash, including the police contact information immediately prior. State police spokesperson Lt. J. Paul Vance and Seymour police spokesperson Lt. Paul Satkowski would not comment on the details of the pursuit and the crash Monday.
However, the police source said the Seymour police officer had stopped pursuing the car minutes before the crash occurred.
The pursuit started near the entrance to the Klarides Village shopping center on Route 67, the source said. It is unclear at what time this happened.
That's where Seymour Officer Tony Renaldi first noticed the Mustang with the neon lights on the undercarriage of the car. The lights shine a neon glow on the ground under the car as it drives.
Renaldi followed the Mustang along Route 67 toward Oxford without putting on his lights and sirens, the source said.
Near the intersection of Mountain Road, the Mustang allegedly passed another car on the road, so Renaldi put his lights and siren on to attempt to pull the car over, the source said.
The Mustang did not stop, and instead drove off into Oxford, according to the source.
Renaldi followed the Mustang for less than a mile with his lights and sirens on, the source said.
Near the Tommy K's Plaza in Oxford, the Mustang turned off the neon lights.
Officer Renaldi turned off his lights and siren, essentially stopping the pursuit, the source said.
Renaldi continued driving along Route 67 behind the Mustang. The source said Renaldi was not close to the Mustang, and wasn't able to discern the license plate number.
Dispatch recordings available online at http://www.radioreference.com/ give some insight into what happened Friday night.
The first call heard on the dispatch was at about 11:46 p.m., when Renaldi said he was turning onto Old State Road in Oxford.
"We turned off 67 onto Old State," Renaldi said. "OK he's up here. He's crashed. Send a 106. It's on its back." (106 is police code for ambulance.)
There was no initial call about a pursuit on the archived radio dispatches. That doesn't mean Renaldi didn't call into dispatch -- it just didn't register on the public scanner.
A few minutes after Renaldi called for an ambulance, a dispatcher is heard calling for mutual aid to respond to the crash.
Click play on the YouTube video - above and to the right - to listen to the recordings. The times in the video reflect the times listed on Radio Reference.
Part of the state police investigation will be to determine if Seymour followed procedure in terms of pursuing Ramirez's Mustang. State police also plan to review other details about the incident -- including where the teens were before the crash, and where they were headed.
Vance said the state police will conduct a "thorough and unbiased investigation" and won't discuss it publicly until the review is complete.
Police officers are allowed to pursue suspects across town lines, according to a state police policy on pursuits. The policy applies to all police officers in Connecticut.
However, if the suspect refuses to stop, police officers must weigh whether chasing them is worth the risk.
In making that decision, the officer must consider several factors, including:
- Road, weather, and environmental conditions
- Population density and vehicular and pedestrian traffic
- Whether the identity of the occupants is known and immediate apprehension is not necessary to protect the public
- The relative performance capabilities of the pursuit vehicle and the vehicle being pursued
- The seriousness of the offense.