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Anguish in Connecticut follows a chilling hit-and-run

June 06, 2008|From the Associated Press

HARTFORD, CONN. — A 78-year-old man is tossed like a rag doll in a hit-and-run and lies motionless on a busy street as car after car goes by. Pedestrians gawk but appear to do nothing. One driver stops briefly, then pulls back into traffic. A man on a scooter slowly circles the victim, then zips away.

The chilling scene -- captured on video by a streetlight surveillance camera -- has touched off a round of soul-searching in Hartford.

"We no longer have a moral compass," Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts said. He released the video Wednesday in hopes of making an arrest in the incident that left Angel Arce Torres in critical condition.

But Roberts backtracked Thursday. After initially saying he was unsure whether anyone called 911, he and other city officials appeared at a news conference in which they said that four people had dialed 911 within a minute of the accident, and that Torres received medical attention shortly after that.

The hit-and-run took place in daylight last Friday about 5:45 p.m. in a working-class neighborhood near downtown in this city of 125,000.

In the video, Torres, a retired forklift operator, walks in the two-way street just blocks from the state Capitol after buying milk at a grocery store. A tan Toyota and a dark Honda that is apparently chasing it veer across the center line. Torres is struck by the Honda; both cars dart down a side street.

Nine cars pass Torres as a few people stare from the sidewalk. Some approach Torres, but no one gets closer than a couple of yards and no one attempts to stop or divert traffic. About a minute and a half later, a police cruiser arrives, responding to an unrelated call.

"Like a dog they left him there," said a disgusted Jose Cordero, 37, who was with friends Thursday not far from where Torres was struck.

One witness, Bryant Hayre, 37, told the Hartford Courant he didn't feel comfortable helping Torres, who he said was bleeding and conscious.

"I'm not skilled enough when it comes to blood flowing or I would have helped him," Hayre said.

The Rev. Henry Brown, a community activist, called it "one of the most despicable things I've seen by one human being to another. I don't understand the mind-set anymore."

Gov. M. Jodi Rell called the video "beyond chilling."

The victim's son, Angel Arce, begged the public for help in finding the driver.

"I want justice for my father," he said. "He's a good man. He's in pain. The family is in pain."

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