Both drivers were drunk in crash that killed CT Rep. Quentin ‘Q’ Williams, officials say
Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, D-Middletown, and the wrong-way driver blamed for the crash that claimed both their lives in January were legally drunk, officials familiar with the state police toxicology report said Tuesday.
Expecting the imminent release of the police report, House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, told House Democrats in a closed caucus to prepare themselves for the news their colleague was intoxicated the night he died in January.
“It sort of brings up a lot of emotion, just to revisit the tragedy. It goes without saying everybody should follow the law, obviously,” Ritter said after the caucus. “But in no way does it diminish the way we feel about him, his legacy.”
State police have yet to release the completed the report, but a portion shown to CT Mirror states that the “causative factor” for the accident was Kimede Katie Mustafaj driving north in the southbound lane of Route 9.
Ritter said he did not want his caucus to read about the toxicology report on social media, where the news might be accompanied with criticism.
“We understand there are people who may have comments to the contrary,” Ritter said. “But I can tell you he was an incredible man. He did a lot for the state of Connecticut. And that’s how we’re going to remember him.”
Williams’ desk and empty chair sits in the well of the House, a memorial that will remain throughout the session. Flowers and a copy of the day’s House calendar are placed on it.
Williams, 39, and Mustafaj, 27, of Manchester were killed in the fiery crash on Route 9 in Cromwell. State police previously have said that Mustafaj was driving the wrong way on Route 9 and had been for several miles before the collision.
The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled that both Williams and Mustafaj died from blunt trauma to the head and torso. The deaths were ruled accidental pending results of the toxicology tests.
Williams had attended the governor’s inaugural ball in Hartford and was returning to Middletown at the time of the crash. He had taken the oath of office for his third term just hours before, on the first day of the General Assembly session.
Williams was driving the Infiniti Q60 in the far left lane heading south on Route 9 near exit 18 when the crash occurred, about 12:45 a.m.
Mustafaj was driving a Toyota Corolla north in the southbound lane and collided with the car Williams was driving head-on, according to the state police incident report.
The collision caused Williams’ car to burst into flames as it came to rest on the left shoulder. The Toyota stopped in the center median.
Following Williams’ death, the legislature held public hearings on how to combat the number of fatalities and pedestrians killed by cars on state roads in the last few years.
According to DOT statistics, 2022 was the deadliest year on Connecticut roadways in decades. An estimated 231 drivers and passengers died in motor vehicle accidents, and another 75 people who were walking or biking were also killed in collisions.
DOT Commissioner Garrett Eucalitto told lawmakers Connecticut must act to make the state’s roads safer.
Eucalitto testified that there were 13 wrong way crashes in 2022, claiming the lives of 23 people.
He urged lawmakers to reduce the legal blood alcohol level for drivers in Connecticut as one way to combat the increase in fatalities.
“To be frank, Connecticut has a drunk driving problem,” Eucalitto said. “We are one of the worst offending states in the nation.”
Connecticut law considers a driver legally intoxicated if they have a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. But Eucalitto encouraged lawmakers to pass another bill — SB 1082 — that would lower that blood alcohol concentration to 0.05%, a level that only one other state, Utah, has enforced.
A few nights after the crash, hundreds of people gathered on the South Green in Middletown to remember Williams.
The legislature’s Black and Puerto Rican Caucus leaders remembered Middletown’s first Black state representative as “a trailblazer who fought for equality and was committed to creating learning opportunities in all communities.”
Gov. Ned Lamont directed state flags to half staff in Williams’ honor. The state Capitol closed for the remainder of the week.
Williams was a graduate of Middletown public schools, had a business degree from Bryant University and earned his master’s of public administration from Villanova.
He first served in the General Assembly during the 2019 session. He was co-chair of the Aging Committee at the start of the 2021-22 session then took over as Housing Committee co-chair. He was slated to serve as head of the Labor and Public Employees Committee this year.
This story, which has been updated, was originally published by the Connecticut Mirror.