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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

City copes with death of two teens

3rd student
critically hurt;drag racing suspected

By James Tinley
Register Staff
— Police believe speed was a factor in the car crash that killed two Jonathan Law High School students Monday night in the Westfield Connecticut Post mall parking lot, and they are investigating reports that the crash may have been the result of drag racing.
The driver, Shawn Foley, 17, and passenger Jonathan Dolceacqua, 18, died late Monday after their car slammed into a utility pole in the mall parking lot off Boston Post Road. A third person in the car, 16-year-old Michael Vicino, was in critical condition Tuesday night at Bridgeport Hospital.
Police have talked to witnesses who reported that they saw another car, also traveling at a high speed, at the time of the accident, said Police Chief Keith Mello, shown speaking above. Police are trying to determine if the two cars were racing.
“We believe speed was a factor, and by all appearances, the driver lost control of the vehicle,” Mello said. “Why that happened and how that happened will be something that will be determined later on.”
The accident sent shock waves through Milford, and counselors have been at Jonathan Law High School to help friends and staff with the grieving process, officials said.
“We are attending to every detail, attending to every need, but it is a bruised community today,” Superintendent of School Harvey Polansky said Tuesday.
Foley, and his rear-seat passenger Dolceacqua of 67 Hill St., were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital where they were pronounced dead on arrival, police said. Vicino, of 175 Broadway, was sitting in the front passenger seat. He had been a Jonathan Law student, but had transferred to Bullard Havens Technical School in Bridgeport.
Foley, of 480 Woodland Ave., apparently lost control of his 1990 Nissan 240SX while coming around a curve at the south side of the mall, near JC Penny, while trying to pass another vehicle on what is known as “ring road,” police said. The road runs along the perimeter of the mall parking lot. It is mainly a two-lane road that intermittently has a third lane to allow people to turn into the mall lots.
Police first received a 911 call at 7:37 p.m. from mall security notifying them of the accident. Emergency workers arrived shortly thereafter and quickly set to work extricating the three teenagers, who were all unconscious and trapped in the heavily damaged car, said fire Battalion Chief Robert Healey.
At one point, there were more than 35 emergency medical personnel at the scene, Mello said.
“Every effort was made to save these gentlemen; unfortunately in the case of two, our efforts were not enough,” Healey said. “Our condolences go out to the family, but it was true a team effort to give these fellas every viable chance they had to survive this tragic accident.”
Healey said he is unsure if the teenagers were wearing seat belts.
The Milford Police Traffic Division accident reconstruction team was on the site Tuesday and is beginning to piece together exactly what happened Monday night. The investigation process can take 30 to 60 days, Mello said.
Once all the information is in, Mello said he is going to “dissect it” to determine if there is a way to avoid another tragic accident like this one from happening.
Mello said he doesn’t think the road design is to blame because there were only three accidents, all of which were minor, on the road in the last five years.
The road is owned by the mall, but there is a state-posted speed limit of 25 mph. Even though it is private property, people driving on the ring road can be subject to speeding tickets and citations for certain other traffic violations, Mello said.
Foley had his license for more than six months, making it legal to have passengers in the car, Mello said.
“On behalf of all the citizens of Milford, our heart, our prayers go out to the family of these boys that lost their lives last night,” said Mayor James L. Richetelli Jr.
James Tinley can be reached at or 876-3030.


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