WEST HAVEN — A 14-year-old boy riding his bicycle on Captain Thomas Boulevard was killed Monday when a Jeep slammed into him as he pedaled across the street.
Police said the driver of the Jeep had a green light and was not at fault.
The identity of the boy, who was a student at Bailey Middle School, was not immediately released pending notification of his family. A friend who was riding alongside the victim was not harmed.
A crowd of onlookers and neighbors gathered at the corner of Captain Thomas and Campbell Avenue as police investigated the accident, which happened just before 4 p.m.
Officers cordoned off the scene with yellow tape and directed traffic.
Two bicycles, one of them partly mangled, were near the center barrier under the traffic light. A high-top sneaker and white baseball cap lay on the ground, surrounded by shattered glass.
Witnesses said it did not appear the victim was wearing a helmet.
Police Sgt. Martin Garcia said the two boys were riding bicycles east on Captain Thomas Boulevard. When they tried to turn left onto Campbell Avenue, the Jeep hit one of the boys, Garcia said.
The driver’s side of the Jeep’s windshield was smashed.
Garcia said the boy died while being transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital.
“It’s so sad,” said neighbor Karen Orlando as she watched police examine evidence at the scene. The mother of a 15-year-old boy, Orlando ran outside to make sure it wasn’t her own son.
“It’s a very dangerous intersection,” she said. “Cars go flying by.”
Orlando said she saw paramedics trying to resuscitate the boy before taking him away by ambulance.
As the crowd of onlookers grew, teenagers in shock about the tragedy speculated about who the victim was and wondered if it was someone they knew. Parents emotionally talked about the need for helmet laws and more vigilance by drivers.
“Just like they say wear a seat belt, just wear a helmet,” said resident Gerri Collins.
Garcia said he could not confirm reports that the boy was not wearing a helmet.
At a Board of Education meeting Monday night, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro said grief counselors will be available at Bailey and Carrigan middle schools today.
“They will be ready to counsel students as soon as the doors open,” he said. “Our sympathies go out to his family,” Cavallaro added.
Board Chairman Mark Palmieri, whose son played baseball with the victim, called the boy a respectful and bright young man.
“His smile would light up the room every time he walked in,” he said.
A memorial of flowers, candles and baseballs was set up at the intersection of Captain Thomas Boulevard and Campbell Avenue Monday night and friends continued to stop by after dark.
Garcia said the intersection is a busy one, but not an area that is prone to accidents.
He said people should be cautious as summer approaches and more people are outside.
“It’s very important especially now that the weather is warming up and motorists should expect more bicycles and pedestrians out on the road,” he said, adding: “People riding bikes should adhere to the same rules as motorists.”
I've lived in West Haven for about 13 years now, and since the beginning have always been amazed at how reckless the kids are -- whether they're on foot or bike. I can't count the number of times I've almost hit a kid, because they just walk/ride right in front of cars.
Of course I feel sorry for the kid that got killed, and his family, but this is something foreign to me -- I grew up on my bike, and was taught to watch out for cars. My friends and I were careful to do this, because we understood that, simply because of the difference in size between a bike and a car, we would be the ones that got hurt.
And, of course, there are going to be cases where a driver is at fault -- blowing a stop sign, speeding -- but let's be realistic about this, please. Kids should not ride a bike in front of moving vehicles. But they do, all the time. I've seen kids hold up traffic here in W. Haven, riding down the street, criss-crossing in front of traffic. And as traffic finally goes by, and drivers yell at them to watch where they're going, the kids just laugh and curse and flip the bird.
Then, one gets hit, and the world turns upside-down and everyone starts "looking for answers" ... and yet the answer is simple: Don't ride your bike in front of cars.
As a last note, the lead paragraph of this story is very poor: "A 14-year-old boy riding his bicycle on Captain Thomas Boulevard was killed Monday when a Jeep slammed into him as he pedaled across the street."
Really? It sounds dramatic, and it's accurate, but it's very misleading. It makes it sound like the kid was doing what he was supposed to be doing and the Jeep did something wrong.
Instead, it should have said "A 14-year-old boy was killed Monday when he rode his bicycle in front of traffic and was struck by a Jeep."
If you don't put the blame where the blame belongs, you waste the lesson.