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Week in CT News: The crash that killed a state lawmaker; CT officials react to end of COVID emergency

A photo of state Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams during his vigil at the South Green in Middletown.
Joe Amon
Connecticut Public
A photo of state Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams during his vigil at the South Green in Middletown.

Report: Williams and wrong-way driver were drunk the night they died

Connecticut lawmakers are being asked about their alcohol consumption after a report released Wednesday revealed state Rep. Quentin Williams was intoxicated the night he was killed by a wrong-way driver.

Williams died shortly after midnight on Jan. 5 when the car he was driving on Route 9 in Cromwell was hit head-on by a motorist, Kimede Mustafaj, who was traveling the wrong way. Police say Williams left the governor’s inaugural ball in Hartford about a half-hour before the accident.

“He was hit head-on by a wrong-way driver who didn’t go to any inaugural balls,” Gov. Ned Lamont told reporters. “That was the cause of Q’s tragic death.”

Williams was 39. The Middletown Democrat had been sworn in for his third term just hours before the crash.

A toxicology report released to Connecticut Public Thursday determined Mustafaj had a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.137%, which is above the legal limit in Connecticut of 0.08.

The same report showed that Williams was also drunk. His BAC level was 0.159%.

In the wake of the report’s release, Democratic leaders in the state House dismissed reporters’ questions about alcohol consumption being a problem for lawmakers. Rep. Robin Comey, D-Branford, was arrested on a drunken-driving charge in March after she flipped her car near the state Capitol.

“We’re lawmakers, and we’re held to all sorts of different standards, but I think we’re also human beings as well,” House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford, told reporters.

Lawmakers have cut down on after-hours events in an attempt to limit alcohol consumption, said House speaker Matt Ritter (D-Hartford).

The toxicology report comes from an autopsy conducted on Williams hours after the fiery crash. The state medical examiner said that Williams died of blunt impact injury of the head and torso.

The COVID public health emergency has expired

Both federal and state COVID emergencies expired Thursday. And according to Gov. Ned Lamont, Connecticut’s emergency declaration isn’t being renewed.

“Ending the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration does not mean that the virus has been eradicated,” Lamont said in a news release emailed to Connecticut Public. “I continue to urge Connecticut residents to take actions to protect themselves from the spread of COVID-19 and all respiratory viruses – stay home when you’re sick, get vaccinated and boosted to limit your risk of contracting viruses, and listen to the advice of medical experts on ways to stay healthy.”

The end of the emergency also means the remaining policies under the declaration expire. State-supported COVID-19 testing and vaccination clinics are set to close June 30. State residents will have to pay for COVID-19 tests and vaccines if they aren’t covered by insurers. Waivers for the state Women, Infants and Children (or WIC) program are terminated 90 days after the declaration’s expiration.

State officials say they’ll continue to monitor wastewater for new COVID strains and that they’re preparing in the event of another COVID wave.

Frankie & Johnny premieres Fridays at 4:44 p.m. during All Things Considered on Connecticut Public Radio. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.
John Henry Smith is Connecticut Public’s host of All Things Considered, its flagship afternoon news program. He's proud to be a part of the team that won a regional Emmy Award for The Vote: A Connecticut Conversation. In his 21st year as a professional broadcaster, he’s covered both news and sports.

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