Pedestrian whose accident inspired morality debate dies in Hartford, Conn.

An image from a surveillance video shows Angel Arce Torres lying in the street just after a car hit him last year. Torres died Monday night.

Hartford Police Department (2008)

An image from a surveillance video shows Angel Arce Torres lying in the street just after a car hit him last year. Torres died Monday night.

HARTFORD, Conn. — A Hartford man has died a year after he was left paralyzed and mute in a hit-and-run accident that was mostly ignored by witnesses and inspired a debate about the city's morality.

Angel Arce Torres was removed from life support Monday in Hartford Hospital and died of injuries suffered in the accident, said his son, Angel Arce. He was 79.

A surveillance camera recorded the accident May 30, 2008, in a busy Hartford neighborhood about a mile from the state Capitol.

Torres was walking across Park Street when two wrong-way drivers raced into view. One zipped by Torres, while the second struck him, flipping him head over heels and leaving him twisted and motionless in the street.

Cars drove by without stopping as a crowd gathered on a sidewalk. One driver briefly stopped before pulling back into traffic; the operator of a motor scooter circled the man before taking off again.

The video touched off a round of soul-searching in Hartford, with the city's newspaper blaring "SO INHUMANE" on the front page. Police Chief Daryl Roberts lamented at the time, "We no longer have a moral compass. We have no regard for each other."

The driver was never caught.

Neighbors said the crash continues to cast a shadow. It deteriorates the neighborhood, said Lady Ortiz, 22, who works nearby as a kindergarten instructor.

"It's difficult, because now we know we can't always trust each other. People saw this happen and didn't say anything. So if it were to happen to me? I don't know."

Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez expressed condolences in a statement and said police are working "tirelessly" on the case.

The family tried to keep Torres, a former forklift operator, comfortable during the last year of his life, his son said. They fed him spoonfuls of strawberry ice cream and coffee during frequent hospital visits. They helped him celebrate his birthday and 50th wedding anniversary.

"He never did talk after the accident. We had to learn how to read his lips," Arce said. "We never talked about the accident. We just spent it making him laugh and seeing him."

Pedestrian whose accident inspired morality debate dies in Hartford, Conn. 05/12/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:10pm]

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