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Second Driver Charged In Fatal New Britain Hit & Run

A second driver is expected to be arraigned Wednesday in the hit-and-run that killed a New Britain jogger.

Ben Jones III, 52, was arrested July 28 on charges of reckless endangerment and reckless driving. Police say Jones gave chase to the 17-year-old who allegedly was driving the car that hit and killed Henryk Gudelski, 53

While the 17-year-old took off running after the accident, Jones stayed on the scene in an effort to find his wallet, which he said the teen had stolen.

“They were chasing him and all because somebody, the person stole his wallet,” said a spectator on a video posted to the Facebook group New Britain Talks.

In the video, which captured the scene as paramedics tried to save Gudelski, Jones can be heard talking to onlookers.

“My car was unlocked,” said Jones.

Jones then explains that the 17-year-old driver stole his wallet from his unlocked car at a gas station in Plainville. An arrest warrant application for Jones says he then chased the 17-year-old for 11 miles into New Britain before the fatal accident.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart says things would be different if that pursuit never happened.

"Yes. 110 percent yes. I think those kids realized they were being followed by this person and were trying to get away from him,” said Stewart.

The arrest warrant for the 17-year-old, whom CT Public is not naming because he is a juvenile, says the same. Police, who found the teenager hiding in a closet at home, said he tried to lose Jones before he lost control of the car and blacked out.

New Britain Police Chief Christopher Chute says pursuits like this can’t happen.

“What we’re seeing in this incident, I think was a manifestation of some frustration where you see a victim seeing a crime being committed against them and they know that not much is going to happen, so they’re taking it into their own hands,” said Chute.

The arrest warrant details the chase over 12 pages. Police have so much information because Jones called 911 dispatch to tell them where the teens were.

Despite one of the teens throwing his wallet out of the car, and the dispatcher asking Jones to stop pursuing the vehicle, Jones declined.

Jones was released on a promise to appear at an arraignment Sept. 15. He has not entered a plea, and his lawyers did not return our calls.

Walter Smith Randolph is the Investigative Editor and Lead Reporter for The Accountability Project at Connecticut Public Broadcasting. The New York City native comes to CT Public after a decade of reporting at local tv stations across the country.
Jacqueline Rabe Thomas is an investigative reporter with Connecticut Public’s Accountability Project.
Jim Haddadin is a data journalist for The Accountability Project, Connecticut Public's investigative reporting team. He was previously an investigative producer for NBC Boston, and wrote for newspapers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.