I-TEAM: Vernon police cruiser involved in crash did not have dash cameras; woman killed was teacher in Springfield, MA

Vernon police cruiser involved in crash did not have dash cameras; woman killed was teacher
Published: Apr. 3, 2023 at 8:30 PM EDT
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(WFSB) - We’re learning a teacher in Springfield, Massachusetts died when the car she was riding in crashed with a police cruiser responding to a call.

This unfolded just before 7:30 Sunday night in Vernon.


When the I-Team started looking into the crash, we asked police for dash camera video, and learned the cruiser involved was *not in compliance with state law.

In fact, we’ve learned all Vernon police cruisers are behind on new legislation.

They do **not have dashboard cameras; despite being **required to.

CT’s Police Accountability Law, signed in July 2020, said all police departments had to put dash cams in every cruiser by July 2022.

But Vernon’s Police Department confirms they haven’t done so yet.

In a statement, a spokesperson goes on to say “the Town of Vernon’s Police Department has been doing its due diligence to acquire dash cams for its cruisers. In addition to equipment purchases, the town also had to address financing this unfunded mandate. The Vernon Police Department has had body cams for its officers since 2015, one of the first in the state. New body cam and dash cams have already been ordered.”


Police have released the names of those involved.

They say Officer Andree Lisee, a 4-year veteran of the Vernon PD, was driving the cruiser.

Police say the cruiser was responding to an “officer needs assistance call” for a protective order violation when this happened.

Police say the cruiser’s lights were on but they weren’t sure about the sirens, saying they “assumed they were on.”

He was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital.

The driver of the second vehicle was identified as 33-year-old Phillip Vargas.

Vargas and a one-year-old suffered minor injuries.


Vargas’ passenger, 26-year-old Bianca Colon died, she was a teacher at Springfield Prep Charter School in Springfield, Massachusetts.

A spokesperson for the school says, “We are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of one of our Springfield Prep teachers, Bianca Colon-Hernandez, who tragically lost her life in a car accident over the weekend.

Bianca was a dear colleague, friend, and teacher at Springfield Prep, and her death is a devastating loss to our community. As we reflect on her life and mourn with one another, we are offering our students and staff members counseling and support services today and, in the days, ahead.

Our thoughts are with her family and loved ones, and we ask for everyone’s compassion and understanding for the family’s privacy during this difficult time. "

Manchester Police and the State’s Attorneys’ Office are leading the investigation.

We will stay on top of this and bring you more details as we learn them.