Friends, family mourn
Authorities identify victim of fatal crash in Bridgeport
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.
Bridgeport firefighters examine a motor vehicle at the scene of a serious car crash at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Thursday.