Pedestrian who set off morality debate

The Associated PressMay 13, 2009 

A Hartford man has died a year after he was left paralyzed and mute in a hit-and-run accident that was mostly ignored by witnesses and inspired a debate about the city's morality.

Angel Arce Torres was removed from life support Monday in Hartford Hospital and died of injuries suffered in the accident, said his son, Angel Arce. He was 79.

A surveillance camera recorded the accident May 30, in a busy Hartford neighborhood about a mile from the state Capitol.

Torres was walking across Park Street when two wrong-way drivers raced into view. One zipped by Torres, while the second struck him, flipping him head over heels and leaving him twisted and motionless in the street.

Cars drove by without stopping as a crowd gathered on a sidewalk. One driver briefly stopped before pulling back into traffic; the operator of a motor scooter circled the man before taking off again.

A police officer arrived less than two minutes later, having come upon the accident while responding to an unrelated call. Authorities initially said they were unsure whether anyone had even called 911 but later said four people did within a minute of the accident.

The video touched off a round of soul-searching in Hartford, with the city's newspaper blaring "SO INHUMANE" on the front page. Police Chief Daryl Roberts lamented at the time, "We no longer have a moral compass. We have no regard for each other."

The driver was never caught.

"You know people keep calling it an accident," Arce said Tuesday. "It was not an accident. It was a crime."

Police did not return calls Tuesday on whether the crash would now be classified a homicide.

Neighbors said the crash continues to cast a shadow.

"It's very bad. Very bad. Bad, bad, bad," said Wilgermina Vasquez, 55, who has lived along Park Street for more than a decade.

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