VERNON -- Police on Friday continued to follow leads in a stabbing so serious they opted to put the wounded man on the hood of a patrol car and drive him to the hospital up the street.
Officers made the unusual decision late Thursday, when they found Robert Haskell bleeding profusely from a stab wound to the chest outside 22 Ward St. They could see Rockville General Hospital's emergency room from where Haskell collapsed.
"I think they did the right thing," Lt. John Kelley said at a press conference Friday. "They were trying to save this man's life."
As of early Friday afternoon, Haskell, 20, of the Broad Brook section of East Windsor, was listed as being in serious but stable condition at Hartford Hospital.
He might have died if they had waited for the ambulance, which was at least 10 minutes away, Kelley said.
The stabbing happened in front of a smoke shop at 76 Union St. Several people called 911 about 11:50 p.m. to report a large fight, police said. The first two officers at the scene arrived in 30 seconds; they had been investigating a burglary nearby, police said.
The wounded Haskell had stumbled to 22 Ward St., where he collapsed on the sidewalk. Although he was conscious, the officers saw that Haskell had lost a large amount of blood and had a life-threatening wound, police said. They called for an ambulance, which they learned would be coming from Manchester -- perhaps because it had taken a patient to Manchester Memorial Hospital, Kelley said.
The officers decided to put Haskell on the hood. One walked alongside the patrol car, applying pressure, while the other slowly drove 300 yards to the hospital. The officers didn't put him in the back seat because the molded, plastic back seats -- designed to hold prisoners -- wouldn't have kept him flat or allow treatment, Kelley said.
"As they were trying to deal with that, they were dealing with a large, unruly, uncooperative crowd," Kelley said. He later said that may have factored into their decision to get the victim away from the scene.
Police put out a call for all available officers in Vernon to respond. State troopers and officers from Manchester responded as well.
Several members of the group had followed the police car to the emergency room and interfered with Haskell's treatment, he said. Two of them, friends of Haskell's, refused to comply with orders to leave and were arrested.
Malcolm Atwater, 45, of Burnside Avenue in East Hartford and Generio Jones, 21, of Lawrence Street in Vernon each was charged with breach of peace and second-degree rioting. They were arraigned in Superior Court in Rockville Friday. Atwater's bail was set at $15,000. Jones posted his $7,500 bail.
Haskell later was transferred to Hartford Hospital. He was alert enough to help with the investigation, Sgt. Gary Jonas said.
Still, the person who stabbed him remained at large Friday afternoon. He is described as 5 feet 7 tall and 150 pounds. He was wearing a blue overcoat and a red hat, police said, and he is believed to live in Hartford.
Anyone with information about the stabbing is asked to call Vernon police at 860-872-9126.
Courant Staff Writer David Owens and Fox CT's David P. McKay contributed to this story.
Copyright 2012 - The Hartford Courant, Conn.