Police identify driver killed in New Haven restaurant crash

Driver dead after crashing into restaurant in New Haven
Published: Jun. 14, 2022 at 8:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2022 at 12:23 PM EDT
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NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - A man was killed when his car crashed into Scarpellino’s Restaurant in New Haven Tuesday evening.

Police identified the driver as 22-year-old Wilmer Lopez of New Haven.

Lopez crashed into the building on Forbes Avenue after he caused crashes in Branford and East Haven, according to Rick Fontana, New Haven’s emergency management director.

No one else was injured.

Fontana said Lopez was traveling at a high rate of speed and went airborne.

He said Lopez was involved in the two crashes before the final crash in New Haven.

The driver crashed in Branford then fled the scene in his vehicle.

Lopez then crashed in East Haven, which caused a car to roll over Saltonstall Parkway and Forbes Place. The driver of that car that was hit and sent to Yale New Haven Hospital for non-life threatening injuries.

Lopez also fled that scene and ran over a number of flower beds and shrubs in New Haven before finally crashed into Scarpellino’s.

Surveillance video recorded the moments before it happened.

Surveillance video showed a speeding driver moments before a deadly crash in New Haven that happened on June 14.

A neighbor was sound asleep when the crash rocked the neighborhood.

“It was enough to wake up a dead man,” said John Kenny of New Haven. “I was close to it, out like a light. [I] just came in from flying in from Florida, yelled out to her ‘what did you drop?’ and she said ‘I didn’t drop anything, there was an accident out front.’”

A gas station worker said he saw it happen.

“I see one car with too much speed, and I just watched him on the sidewalk and fly. Then boom. He hit a tree and his car turned,” says Muhammad Shah, store worker.

Danny Scarpellino, the owner of the restaurant, said getting that panicked call Tuesday night never a good thing, but he said, you need to keep everything in perspective.

“My original reaction was oh my god, but then you start thinking about the alternative, we could have been open, it could have been 12 o’clock. Then I heard the kid died, 22 years old, when I got here,” Scarpellino said.

“He hit there, went here, and then went a little bit sideways, took out the middle tree, busted the big rock,” said Kenny.

Kenny, who lives next door, said the crash startled him from his sleep.

When he went outside, he saw many of the plants and shrubs he’d been growing for years were gone.

He said that video gives him chills.

“When it went by, it’s like snap your fingers, it was done, big cloud of dust and the car going that way and then up on to that way,” said Kenny.

The impact caused enough damage that they had to turn off the restaurant’s gas line Tuesday night.

This is the latest setback to Scarpellino, who said they just reopened in January after a fire closed them down back in the fall.

“We’ll get through it like we get through it all. Something bad happens, in time you get over it,” Scarpellino said.

The hope is for the restaurant to be back open on Friday. If not, definitely on Monday following the weekend.

Multiple law enforcement agencies continue to investigate what happened.

Refresh this page and watch Eyewitness News for updates.

Driver killed after crashing into New Haven restaurant
A man was killed when his car crashed into Scarpellino’s Restaurant in New Haven Tuesday evening.
A man was killed when his car crashed into Scarpellino’s Restaurant in New Haven Tuesday evening.
A driver was killed after police said the person caused multiple crashes in three different municipalities.
Person dead after car crashes into Scarpellino’s Restaurant in New Haven