Conn. Trooper Fatally Struck in Hit-and-Run Crash During Stop

May 31, 2024
Connecticut State Police Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier was talking with a driver he had pulled over in Southington when he was struck and killed by a pickup truck that fled the scene.

By Liz Hardaway, Matthew P. Knox and Christine Dempsey

Source The Hour, Norwalk, Conn.

SOUTHINGTON, CT — A Connecticut State Police trooper was struck and killed while conducting a traffic stop on Interstate 84 on Thursday afternoon, the agency said.

Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier, of Troop H in Hartford, was struck by a pickup truck while speaking with the driver of a vehicle he pulled over.

"Today, a dedicated state trooper was taken from us," State Police Col. Daniel Loughman said Thursday night.

"In this job, we talk about the many sacrifices that troopers make. The family milestones we miss. The hours we work and the hazards of the job. I can tell you that yes, there's much that we give up in this career, but we never want a trooper to make the ultimate sacrifice," Loughman said.

State police said Pelletier was outside his cruiser on the eastbound side of the highway just before exit 31 around 2:35 p.m. when he was struck by the pickup.

The operator of the pickup kept driving and only stopped when the vehicle became disabled near exit 39A in Farmington, state police said. That person has been taken into custody, but was not identified Thursday night.

Just prior to the accident, Pelletier was driving on the highway, working overtime on a High Visibility Motor Vehicle Enforcement Grant as part of an initiative to reduce fatal accidents on the state's roads, state police said. He saw a driver in the right lane who wasn't wearing a seatbelt and activated his lights and sirens to pull them over.

The driver complied and pulled onto the shoulder, followed by Pelletier.

Pelletier then approached the driver and spoke with them briefly to explain why he pulled them over, state police said.

A preliminary investigation shows that at the same time, the red pickup was traveling in the right lane and began moving over the line into the shoulder, with both of its passenger-side wheels completely over the line, according to state police.

The pickup sideswiped Pelletier's cruiser and then struck the trooper, state police said. Pelletier's K-9 Roso was in the vehicle but was not injured, state police said.

Several people witnessed the collision and called 911, including one person who continued to provide information to state police as the situation unfolded.

State police said Pelletier is the 26th trooper to die in the line of duty in the agency's 121 years.

Loughman described Pelletier as a compassionate professional, a role model to younger troopers, and in his personal life, a loving husband and father to two young children.

"Trooper First Class Pelletier served the state of Connecticut with honor and integrity and he will not be forgotten," Loughman said.

Loughman said being a trooper was something Pelletier wanted to do for a long time. He had worked for the state Department of Correction, but in 2015, he completed the training and was assigned to Troop H, Loughman said.

Ronnell Higgins, the commissioner of Department of Emergency services and Public Protection, said Pelletier was part of a tapestry that weaves the state together.

"We lost trooper Pelletier when he was doing one of the most vital jobs of a trooper, keeping our roads safe for you, for me, and for our loved ones," Higgins said. To honor him, Higgins asked that residents to take greater care when they drive, to respect each other, to uphold the law, and to believe in justice the way Pelletier did.

In response to Pelletier's death, Gov. New Lamont ordered U.S. and state flags to be lowered to half-staff and remain there until Pelletier's interment, which has yet to be announced.

Pelletier was a canine handler and the father of two young boys, said former state police Col. Stavros Mellekas, who called him a friend.

Pelletier "represented state police to the highest level," Mellekas said, and because of that, opportunities opened for him. Before he became a canine handler, Pelletier worked on a federal task force for a few years, Mellekas said.

"To go to a federal task force, you've got to be sharp. And you've got to be able to get along with everybody," Mellekas said. "You're representing the Connecticut State Police. You have to treat people with dignity and respect. You have to have a personality. You have to have it all."

"He was a terrific trooper, hard-working," Mellekas added.

Pelletier was also good-natured, Mellekas said.

"He was always in a good mood, Mellekas said. "He was a friendly guy. I always think of him with a big smile."

"It's just devastating," he said of Thursday's crash. "Your heart drops."

Lamont said Thursday that the crash is a tragic reminder of the dangers law enforcement face every day when they go to work.

"On behalf of the State of Connecticut, my condolences and prayers go out to his family, friends, and brothers and sisters with the Connecticut State Police. I ask the people of Connecticut to keep Trooper Pelletier in their prayers," he said.

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(c)2024 The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.)

Visit The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.) at www.thehour.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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