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North Stonington — Kenneth Startz of Stonington, a former state police commanding officer and co-owner of successful hearing-aid businesses in Groton and Norwich, died Thursday at Rhode Island Hospital.
Startz had been hospitalized since Sunday, when he suffered serious injuries after being struck by a vehicle on Route 2 near the Holly Green Plaza in North Stonington.
Police said Startz, 63, of 37 Wamphassuc Road was in the roadway removing a table from the westbound lane on Route 2 when he was struck by a car driven by Serena Chen, 34, of Westerly. He was flown by Life Star helicopter to the hospital.
Startz was believed to have been returning from the Foxwoods Home Show, where his business, Community Hearing Aids of Connecticut, was an exhibitor. Startz was retrieving a table that had fallen from his truck into the road, police said.
Police said Chen was not injured in the accident. The accident remains under investigation.
Startz was the former commanding officer of the state police Emergency Services Unit, where he oversaw the dive team, SWAT team and bomb squad. He retired in 1993.
State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance called Startz a “talented trooper,” and the accident an unfortunate tragedy.
“Kenny was a well-trained asset to the agency,” Vance said.
“We lost a good one,” said Jim Streeter, former mayor of Groton who worked with Startz as a member of the Groton City Police Department in the early 1970s. “We had a common bond. We were like brothers.”
Streeter called Startz “a very bright guy” and “quite versatile,” making the leap seamlessly between state police work and private entrepreneurship.
When Startz began his hearing-aid business in Groton a few years ago, Streeter said he was honored as mayor to be able to cut the ribbon for the grand opening. Two years ago, Startz opened a satellite office in Norwich, saying business at Community Hearing Aids was double what he and his wife had expected. Startz owned the business with his wife, Kimballi Andreozzi-Startz.
“He was a great guy,” Streeter said. “When he’d walk into a room, he was like a magnet.”
— Reporters Lee Howard, Greg Smith and Izaskun E. Larrañeta contributed to this report.