March 11, 2009

Pickup driver identified as police build potential homicide case

 The police don’t want to identify a suspect in the hit-and-run last week that killed a Bristol Central High School student because it might jeopardize “a potential homicide investigation,” Police Chief John DiVenere said Tuesday.
Though the police refuse to say who was behind the wheel of the truck that killed 14-year-old Henry Waye as he walked up George Street last Thursday, city assessment records show that Robert D. Park of 132 George St. is the owner of the 1996 white Chevrolet pickup truck apparently involved in the accident.
Park has not been charged in connection with the accident that happened about a quarter of a mile downhill from Park’s home.
Lt. Kevin Morrell, who heads the police traffic division, said the owner of the truck was the person behind the wheel when Waye was struck and killed. He refused to name him, however.
Efforts to reach Park have been unsuccessful. He is apparently in a rehabilitation center.
DiVenere said that the police are determined to make a thorough case before seeking a warrant for anyone’s arrest in the case.
“When it’s done, it’s going to be done right,” the chief, with ever T crossed and every I dotted.
The brown, wood shingle, single-story house where Park has lived for a decade is for sale. A Century 21 sign dangled from a pole out front Tuesday.
Mayor Art Ward has said that police told him that the suspect, whom police found within 75 minutes of the accident, was “highly intoxicated” and threatening suicide at the time. He was taken to Bristol Hospital, the mayor said. Others say he is still receiving treatment.
A police source said Tuesday that when officers found him in his home, Park could barely stand up because he was so drunk.
However, it is not clear whether Park had been drinking before the accident.
Lt. Edward Spyros would only say that alcohol may have been a factor.
Waye and a friend were walking their bicycles up George Street, just past the Bristol Elks Club parking lot, when the pickup truck crossed into the wrong lane and hit the boy. The driver never stopped.
Spyros said that he cannot provide any information about the driver or the truck while there is ongoing investigation.
The truck was hauled away by police on Thursday night after the accident. It is being checked for forensic evidence, police said.
Spyros said that officers are pursuing an array of evidence that may lead to an arrest in several months.
The Bristol Press has filed Freedom of Information requests asking for documents and recordings related to the case, including any accident report, police calls to the Park’s address, the search warrant and 911 calls that evening.

Reporter Jackie Majerus wrote this related story:
Ever since the day his landlord’s truck hit and killed a boy who was walking home on George Street last week, Matthew James said he’s been looking over his shoulder.
James said he’s rented space in Robert Park’s house at 132 George St. for a couple years. Now, he said, it feels like there’s a “bullseye” on the house and he’s worried that he or others in the house could be victims of retaliation for what his landlord did.
“There’s people that live in this house that are not involved,” James said, in the fatal accident that claimed the life of 14-year-old Henry Waye, a freshman at Bristol Central High School.
James said he feels for Waye’s family and the tragic loss they suffered.
“It’s terrible,” said James.  “I wish there was something I could say, but there’s not.”
Robert Park isn’t at the house now, but James and two others are, and they’re all living with the horror of the accident.
“There’s four people that live in this house,” said James. “One person committed a crime. The rest of us are blown away. There’s no way to downplay it.”
James, who rents space in the house with his girlfriend, said he’s not related to Park or even much of a friend. They’re housemates, sharing space to save money, James said, having met through a mutual friend.
When Park’s pickup truck hit Waye shortly after 6:30 last Thursday evening, James said he was working upstairs on his computer. He came down to the door a little before 7 p.m. expecting a delivery of Chinese food, he said.
Instead, he saw four Bristol police officers.
They asked who owned the white Chevy truck, James said, and he said it belonged to Park.
James said he took the four police officers to Park’s first floor bedroom when they asked to see Park. The officers asked James to stay in the front room, James said, so he did.
Police remained at the house for three hours talking with Park, James said. A steady stream of officers came to the door and joined the others in the bedroom, said James, until police finally left with Park about 10 p.m.
James said he waited in the front room the entire time.
James, a Bristol native, said he didn’t want to talk about Park, Park’s condition that night or what happened. He doesn’t want any problems with anyone, he said.
“Things are bad enough,” said James. “I don’t want any trouble.”

Majerus also wrote about Waye's funeral here.

The Press also submitted a Freedom of Information request to the police yesterday, amplifying a handwritten one I put in on Monday. Here's what it says:

March 10, 2009
To the Bristol Police Department:
Under the state Freedom of Information law, I hereby request the opportunity to review the following records:
A record of all police calls to 132 George St. since March 5, 2009.
911 calls between 6:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 6, 2009.
Any accident reports connected to the death of 14-year-old Henry Waye, Jr. on March 6, 2009 on George St.
Any records concerning the transportation of anyone from George Street to Bristol Hospital on March 6, 2009.
Any portions of the PR-1 report from the START team that are complete.
Beyond that, I ask for any and all public records about the accident that took the life of Henry Waye, Jr that are in your possession or control, regardless of where they are stored, whether they are in the police department or an office, home or other computer. These would include any documents that mention Henry Waye, Jr of Hull Street, Logan Costante of George Street, or Robert Park of 132 George St.
I request as well that you act promptly to fill this request. There is no need to wait until everything is complete. I am more than happy to review it as the material is made available.
In addition, because this information is crucial to the public interest and of widespread interest to the community, I hereby request a waiver of any and all fees. Keep in mind, too, that I am asking to review them, not necessarily to obtain copies.
I want you to know that the newspaper will vigorously argue against any attempt to charge for this information. This is a case that clearly meets the criteria for having fees waived.
I appreciate the work that will go into getting this together. I look forward to seeing it soon.
Sincerely,
Steve Collins

If anybody knows of a document that I should specifically request, please let me know what it is.

*******
Copyright 2009. All rights reserved.
Contact Steve Collins at scollins@bristolpress.com

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

are you all happy now

Anonymous said...

Well ya got your name! He's gonna be harassed to death so I hope that really is the guilty party, and I hope he's every bit as much of a creep as you folks will make him out to be... otherwise, it's all on you.

Are you kidding me? said...

8:41 said "He's gonna be harassed to death" WHAT?????? To death like the boy???? Think before you write and speak. Dumb @$$ !!

Anonymous said...

8:41 poster,

AND HE SHOULD BE "HARASSED TO DEATH"

You must be kidding me with that statement! Should we feel sorry for the JERK?

Anonymous said...

Yawn

Anonymous said...

I did think before I speak and I'll say it again. If he's guilty, then fine. He's a bastard. But this is America, and you're innocent til proven guilty. Dumb @$$.

Anonymous said...

You will probably get some grief for printing the name but you did good and I'm glad you did it. You and Jackie and the Press should feel good about all you have done for Henry Waye's family and friends and everybody. You are doing a good job. You really are.

Anonymous said...

Well i hope you can live with yourself if printing this man's name makes it harder for the police to do their job to make sure the guilty go to prison for a long time.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Steve! You and Jackie are doing a great job.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve, but I seriously think you dropped the ball on this one. The publics' ghoulish need to know the name of this drunken schlep really shouldn't supercede the police department's decision not to release the info. You certainly did nothing to help the case or the family of this child by printing it.

Steve Collins said...

2:42 -- To put it bluntly, it's not my job to help the police or even the grieving family. My job is to inform the public.
I did that.
If my work helps the police, fine. I don't mind that. I don't really have a desire to hurt their efforts.
And if I help the family, even better. My heart aches for them.
But my job -- the job of any reporter -- is to get the story. Nobody will ever convince me that we're better off as a society simply doing whatever the police say they think is best. Personally, I think the best thing is to get the facts out there to a questioning community.

Free Press! said...

Glad you said it, Steve.

The previous Anonymous posters seem ignorant of the first amendment. It's not your role to help the police. Most of them are helpless anyway, so what could you possibly do (or not do) to change that?

Keep up the great work!

Anonymous said...

Transparency and ethics is the key to gaining the publics trust. Too bad the folks at city hall dont grasp the concept...nor embrace it.

Anonymous said...

"To put it bluntly, it's not my job to help the police or even the grieving family."

Wow, that's more than just a little scary. The mindless reporting of facts without any thought or consideration about the ramifications or consequences of releasing the information, even it caused more pain for a grieving family or complicated the case against a murderer...just so that the "questioning community" gets all the sordid little details a few days sooner. Wow, that is truly sad.

Anonymous said...

Hope your proud of yourself Steve. Jerk.

What? said...

@ March 11, 2009 5:30 PM

Your feigned idealism and the reality expressed by the "questioning community" should not be confused.

Real life is a little more complicated.

Anonymous said...

Hey 5:30, Steve said its "not his job to help the police...",
he NEVER said thatsay that he he lacks common sense. I think he does a very good job of keeping things ethical and balanced. Although Steve, you are a little brown noser when it comes to the new Press owner and editor, lmao. But hey, whatever works for you :)

Anonymous said...

"To put it bluntly, it's not my job to help the police or even the grieving family. My job is to inform the public.
I did that."

But I thought it's your job to report the news objectively Steve? You surely haven't been objective about not getting your way with the police. I thought editorializing was supposed to be done by the editorial board? Stick to the facts Steve.

Anonymous said...

Well said 5:30.

Concerned Conservative said...

I couldn't care less about this reckless driver or his privacy. I hope our justice system makes an example of him, for the sake of other children's safety. Perhaps other reckless drivers that seem to be abundant, especially ones in our residential neighborhoods, will think twice now when they speed around corners.

Anonymous said...

CC,

It's certainly not a shock that you couldn't care less about the driver (or pretty much anyone else for that matter). There's a whole lot more to look at in the big picture. Not surprising that you can't see it with your incredibly narrow vision.

Anonymous said...

they say he is in a rehab center, that is bull. pull his butt out and throw him in prison where he belongs.do not feel sorry for this man because he has a "drinking problem". he took a life.

Anonymous said...

THE PROBLEM IS THE POLICE CANT FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO . TIME FOR A REAL POLICE CHIEF. WE NEED ONE THAT CAN STAW AWAKE LONG TO FIGURE OUT WHATS GOING ON.

Rich said...

This guy deserves no leinency and should GET THE CHAIR! Henry Waye lost his life and the driver needs to do the same, eye for an eye. Why should he be allowed to continue living?