Firefighter killed in multi-vehicle crash on I-395 Friday night

Norwich firefighter Ben De Mond
Norwich firefighter Ben De Mond

Montville - A Norwich firefighter was killed Friday night and his two children and a Montville man were injured in a series of vehicle collisions on Interstate 395 near the State Police Troop E barracks, police said.

Police have charged one man with drunken driving in connection to the accident.

Benjamin De Mond, 33, of Norwich, was pronounced dead at the scene. Two young children in his vehicle, whom Norwich Fire Battalion Chief Bradley Keltonic said were De Mond's 4- and 6-year-old sons, were taken to Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford where, as of Saturday night, the 4-year-old was listed in fair condition, while the 6-year-old was listed in critical condition, according to Eric Berthel, a medical center spokesman.

De Mond, a native of Washington state, was new to Connecticut when he joined the Norwich Fire Department on March 2, 2006, Keltonic said.

"He was a very respectful, quiet, hardworking guy who really worked hard at learning the job," said Keltonic, who at the time was De Mond's captain. "It's very difficult when you come from a different area to learn all of the streets and the city, and he just worked very hard as a probationary firefighter to learn his job."

Police said the accident occurred shortly after 9 p.m. Friday when Willis Goodale, 50, of Groton attempted to cut across I-395 South between exits 79 and 79A via the emergency turnaround after leaving the Mobil service station.

De Mond was southbound on I-395 when he lost control of his Nissan Maxima as he tried unsuccessfully to avoid Goodale's Jeep Cherokee. After the collision, De Mond's car ran through the turnaround and into oncoming traffic, troopers said, hitting Montville resident Andrew Crouch's car head-on and causing it to roll over.

De Mond's car then spun into the right lane, where it hit a vehicle driven by Albert Fisher, 58, of Lisbon.

Crouch, 59, received incapacitating injuries as his Ford Explorer rolled over as a result of the collisions. Crouch was listed in good condition Saturday night at The William W. Backus Hospital.

Goodale and Fisher were not injured, state police said. Goodale was charged Saturday with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and was held on $1 million bond, police said. Goodale is due in Norwich Superior Court on Monday.

The accident remains under investigation.

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