Friends, fam­ily mourn

Au­thor­i­ties iden­tify vic­tim of fa­tal crash in Bridge­port

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - News - By Tara O'Neill

BRIDGE­PORT — Fam­ily and friends of a Stam­ford man killed in a crash in Bridge­port on Thanks­giv­ing Day flooded so­cial me­dia with mes­sages and pho­tos in his me­mory.

Wag­ner Men­dez, 31, was iden­ti­fied Satur­day by po­lice spokesman Av Har­ris as the driver of the car that re­port­edly sped south down Main Street, jumped the curb and slammed into the Web­ster Bank Arena around 2 p. m. on Thurs­day.

Wil­liam An­du­jar, who iden­ti­fied him­self as Men­dez’s un­cle in a com­ment on a photo of Men­dez on Face­book, wrote that the whole fam­ily was hurt­ing.

“These are very dif­fi­cult mo­ments,” he wrote.

Abertina Men­dez Wag­ner wrote, “I have no words to ex­press my pain.”

Af­ter run­ning into the front of the build­ing, shat­ter­ing two doors and knock­ing out a por­tion of brick, Men­dez’s car rolled over sev­eral times and he was thrown from the car and then trapped un­der it, As­sis­tant Fire Chief Michael Cal­da­roni said Thurs­day af­ter the crash.

By the time fire units got to the scene, he said, crews found the car on fire and the driver un­der the car. Fire­fight­ers were able to quickly put the flames out and re­move the driver.

Men­dez was taken to Bridge­port Hos­pi­tal, where he was pro­nounced dead, po­lice Capt. Kevin Gilleran said.

“The Bridge­port Po­lice Depart­ment of­fers its sin­cer­est con­do­lences to the fam­ily and friends of Mr. Wag­ner Men­dez,” Har­ris said Satur­day.

Though an ex­act speed was not pro­vided, Cal­da­roni said Men­dez was driv­ing down Main Street at “a tremen­dous amount of speed” be­fore he crashed into the arena at 600 Main St. The arena was closed on Thurs­day, though some se­cu­rity em­ploy­ees were in­side the build­ing at the time of the crash.

Since the build­ing was struc­turally sound af­ter the crash, the arena opened on Fri­day for the Bridge­port Sound Tigers hockey game. Wood cov­ered the ex­posed ar­eas that were dam­aged by the im­pact of the crash. It was un­clear how long re­pairs would take or how much they would cost.

Chris­tian Abra­ham / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

Bridge­port fire­fight­ers ex­am­ine a mo­tor ve­hi­cle at the scene of a se­ri­ous car crash at the Web­ster Bank Arena in Bridge­port on Thurs­day.

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