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West Hartford Police Charge Driver in Hit and Run Crash

Jose Mercado. Courtesy of West Hartford Police

A suspect in a Monday morning crash fled the scene but was later arrested at West Hartford Police headquarters.

By Ronni Newton

West Hartford Police tracked down a vehicle that was involved in a hit and run crash Monday morning and although the driver had abandoned the car, before noon he turned himself in and was charged in the incident.

Police said they were called to the scene of a vehicle crash at the intersection of South Main Street and New Britain Avenue at 10 a.m. Monday. A 2004 Jeep Wrangler had been hit and damaged by a small silver sedan, and the suspect had fled the scene.

Police said that witnesses reported seeing the suspect vehicle entering I-84 east, and officers soon spotted the car exiting the highway at Caya Avenue. Police deployed a tire deflation device, which flattened one of the vehicle’s tires, but the suspect continued to flee police, who did not give chase, and crossed Prospect Avenue and got back onto I-84 headed in an eastbound direction.

The vehicle, a 2008 Infinity G35, was located by police parked on Warrenton Avenue in Hartford, near Sisson Avenue, but the driver had fled the scene.

A K-9 team from the Wethersfield Police Department assisted in a search for the driver, but the track was not successful.

Police, however, were able to identify the driver, Jose Mercado, 27, of Oakwood Avenue in West Hartford. Although police could not initially locate him, Mercado turned himself in at the police station at 103 Raymond Rd. around 11:30 a.m.

Superintendent of Schools Tom Moore said that a precautionary “secure the school” action was put into place at Bristow Middle School from 10:50 a.m. until about 11 a.m., while police were in the area searching for the suspect. “Secure the school” differs from a lockdown, Moore said, and is used when there is police activity or a dangerous animal, such as a bear, in the vicinity. Activity goes on as usual inside the school, but students are not permitted to go outside.

Mercado has been charged with evading responsibility, operating a motor vehicle without a license, disobeying traffic control signals, interfering with an officer, reckless driving, and engaging police in pursuit. He was released on $5,000 bond.

The Jeep was towed from the scene with damage to the front right and front right corner. The Infiniti sustained moderate front end damage and was impounded by police. There were no injuries, police said.

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