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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org