Stolen vehicle suspect who drowned running from police was Crosby High School student

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 8:37 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 29, 2023 at 7:37 PM EDT
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WATERBURY, CT (WFSB) – A high school student whom Waterbury police said was connected to a vehicle theft drowned on Tuesday while on the run from them.

Waterbury Public Schools confirmed that he was a student at Crosby High School.

State police identified the boy as Benjamin Payton, 17, of Waterbury.

The incident brought the discussion of what to do about juvenile crime back to the forefront.

Authorities said a Waterbury officer was patrolling Grilleytown Road when the officer found an abandoned and stolen car out of Millerton, NY.

The officer later reportedly found another stolen car around noon, this time out of Ridgefield. That car was occupied and parked on Sage Drive.

When the officer approached the car, four occupants got out and ran away, authorities said.

Police apprehended the driver, whom they identified as a 14-year-old boy. Another occupant, whom they identified as a 16-year-old boy, was also taken into custody.

Waterbury police said the two other occupants ran into woods nearby and entered Lakewood Lake.

One of the occupants, a 17-year-old boy, got out of the reservoir and was taken into police custody, authorities said.

The other occupant, another 17-year-old boy, also entered the reservoir but could not be seen by police.

“Officers entered the water to attempt to make life saving efforts to locate the individual that entered the reservoir along with the assistance of the Waterbury Fire Department, but were unsuccessful in locating this individual,” Waterbury police said.

The 17-year-old boy was then recovered by the Region 5 Dive team, police said. He was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

“All of the occupants of the stolen motor vehicle resided in Waterbury and were known to the Waterbury PD for previous arrests,” police said.

Democratic state representative Geraldo Reyes represents the Brass City.

He says there’s been a bill addressing youth crime each of the 8 years he has served in the legislature. But the biggest hurdle comes from a difference in philosophy, not political party.

“There’s the camp that says we need to be more punitive,” said Rep. Reyes. “The other camp says we don’t have enough wraparound services. I am more for law and order because I think I’ve seen too many young men and women fall through the cracks. I think that sometimes we think that putting that person back out on the street is doing him or her a service. We may be doing a disservice to that person and the community because sometimes they bring harm to themselves and others.”

Authorities said the three teen suspects who were taken into custody were charged with theft of a stolen motor vehicle and interfering with police.

The death of the 17-year-old boy is being investigated by Connecticut State Police.