North Haven jogger struck by truck, dies - WFSB 3 Connecticut

North Haven jogger struck by truck, dies

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NORTH HAVEN, CT (WFSB) -

A 20-year-old man who went out for an afternoon run on Wednesday and was struck by an alleged drunk driver has died.

Police said John Liquori of North Haven was pronounced dead just after 7 p.m. Thursday evening.

The runner's injuries had been described by police as life-threatening, and he was in critical condition since he was hit. The jogger reportedly had a leg amputated, and eyewitnesses to the crash said they saw the pickup truck swerving on the road.

The driver, 72-year-old Theodore Spalding, who crashed into that jogger on Wednesday on Route 17 in North Haven, is set to face a judge on Thursday because police said he was drunk when he was behind the wheel.

Police said Spalding told officers he had one beer but he failed the field sobriety test and police said they stopped the test because they thought he was going to get injured if he continued.

Busy Route 17, also known as Middletown Avenue, sees plenty of traffic and its fair share of runners.

Liquori was out for a run just before 2 p.m. when he was hit by a pickup truck.

"We heard a loud bang, like something fell off the truck, and I thought that's what it was," Christina D'Amico of North Haven said. "But when I had to leave, I saw the pedestrian in the other driveway, and he had been hit."

When police arrived, a huge dent was in the front of the pickup truck while some running shoes remain in the road.

According to police, Spalding was traveling south on Route 17 when the truck hit the runner, who was on the side of the road and heading north.

Spalding reportedly told police that the jogger had darted out in front of him, but witnesses told a different story.

Police said witnesses told them that Spalding's truck veered over the double yellow line and then back to the right, which is when the victim was struck.

As the runner was rushed to an area hospital, Eyewitness News was told investigators on scene suspected Spalding was intoxicated.

Officers performed a number of field sobriety tests on Spalding, and he was eventually taken into custody. He was charged with driving while under the influence and assault with a motor vehicle.

"We have a regional traffic squad that will investigate the accident. Our man is already assigned to it," said North Haven Police Captain Mark Genovese.

Spalding, who has no previous arrests, was held on a $100,000 bond and appeared in court on Thursday. He was released on a $50,000 bond and is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle.

The victim's attorney said earlier on Thursday that the family did not believe the victim would survive his injuries.

"This is a phone call that no mother should have to receive in the middle of the day, anytime, but especially in the middle of the day. They're devastated," said Matthew Popilowski of the family.

Sources said that Spalding is going through some tough times right now, with his son passing away about three years ago, but he had no comments after court on Thursday.

Neighbors on that stretch of Route 17 said the area is dangerous and that they see a lot of crashes there.

"You know, when you live on a main road there are problems, people drive really fast here though," said Christina D'Amico, who lives in the area.

Wednesday's crash is the second serious accident this week in which a runner was hit by a truck.

A 75-year-old jogger, Benjamin Feinn, was out on Mt. Sanford Road in Cheshire on Monday afternoon, when he was hit and killed by a dump truck. Feinn, who was a Cheshire resident was killed instantly, according to police.

Those who are exercising on roads should do everything they can to stay safe, and local running coaches said the most important thing is to be on the defensive.

"You want to see them (cars), so run on the opposite side of the road, against traffic, so you can see the cars coming toward you," said Michelle Kurnik, Fleet Feet Sports running coach.

Kurnik added that not wearing headphones is advised so that surrounding sounds can be heard, or run with one headphone off.

She said wearing reflective clothing that is highly visible is important too, and running in a well lit area.

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