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CT state trooper dies after being hit by vehicle on I-84, driver charged with manslaughter

Police from across Connecticut line up along the road outside of UConn Hospital in Farmington, Connecticut for the escort of Trooper First Class, Aaron Pelletier, May 31 2024. Pelletier was fatally struck Thursday night during a traffic stop on I-84 east in Southington.
Ayannah Brown
/
Connecticut Public
Police from across Connecticut line up along the road outside of UConn Hospital in Farmington, Connecticut for the escort of Trooper First Class, Aaron Pelletier, May 31 2024. Pelletier was fatally struck Thursday night during a traffic stop on I-84 east in Southington.

An arrest has been made after a state trooper was struck and killed by a vehicle during a traffic stop on a Connecticut highway Thursday afternoon.

Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier was hit by the passing vehicle around 2:30 p.m. while outside his cruiser on eastbound Interstate 84 in Southington near exit 31, according to the Connecticut State Police.

After Pelletier was hit by the passing vehicle, authorities said the driver "evaded the scene."

Connecticut State Police said the motorist, Alex Oyola-Sanchez, 44, was arrested and was scheduled to appear in court Friday morning. He faces multiples charges including second-degree manslaughter, failure to drive in the proper lane and operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Pelletier was pronounced dead at the scene. He was a nine-year veteran of the Connecticut State Police.

Procession planned to honor trooper's life

Connecticut State Police plan to escort Pelletier's body from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington to Della Vecchia Funeral Home in Southington Friday afternoon.

The procession will begin at noon and follow Route 4 to I-84 West, to exit 32, to Queen Street in Southington, police said.

Those looking to view the procession "are asked to do so from a safe location clear of the roadway," police said.

Pelletier, who was married with two young children, is the 26th state trooper to die in the line of duty, officials said.

“We never want a trooper to make the ultimate sacrifice,” said Col. Daniel Loughman, commanding officer of Connecticut State Police. “He gave nine years to this job. He was a dedicated and compassionate professional. He was a role model to younger troopers and he set a high standard for them to follow.”

A hearse in the procession for Aaron Pelletier approaches Della Vecchia Funeral Home in Southington.
Ryan Caron King
/
Connecticut Public
A hearse in the procession for Aaron Pelletier approaches Della Vecchia Funeral Home in Southington.

The state has lost a "precious member of the family," said Ronnell Higgins, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

"He was doing one of the most vital jobs as a trooper: Keeping our roads safe, for you, for me and for our loved ones," said Higgins, who encouraged people to be careful as they drive and to respect their fellow citizens.

Gov. Ned Lamont ordered flags to fly at half-staff following the state trooper's death.

“I am devastated to learn about the loss of Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier, who was killed today in the line of duty while serving the people of Connecticut,” Lamont said in a statement. “This is a tragic reminder about the dangers law enforcement face every day when they leave their homes and go to work.”

Tributes pour in

Officials across the state issued statements following Pelletier's death:

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said that “Pelletier bravely answered the call of duty ... and made the ultimate sacrifice. His death is a tragic reminder of the dangers all first responders face at work, and a stark reminder to motorists that they must slow down and move over for stopped emergency vehicles. Failures to slow down and move over are common killers on our roadways and this loss should be a lesson that saves the lives of other courageous first responders. My prayers are with the Pelletier family and the entire Connecticut State Police as they mourn this loss."

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said he was "devastated by the loss of Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier," noting Pelletier's nearly decade of service. "His death is a terrible tragedy," Murphy said.

U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery said, "Trooper Pelletier’s life and stellar career, which included service on a federal task force charged with fighting violent crime in the Hartford area, was cut way too short by this senseless event. His death provides a terrible, but necessary, reminder of the dangers that all members of law enforcement face every day. Their work to keep our communities safe, to keep our streets and roads safe, is never routine."

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said he was “absolutely heartbroken" for Pelletier's family. "We must all pray for and support his family and friends, and every state trooper and officer today, especially those who worked alongside Trooper Pelletier and those who are still out on our roads right now keeping our communities safe in the midst of this tragedy. This demonstrates how much risk our state troopers and law enforcement take every day to keep us safe. From what we know so far, this did not have to happen. We must do all that we can to stop the dangerous and reckless driving putting people, families, and our law enforcement at risk all over our highways today."

This is a developing story and has been updated.

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