Man crashes while live streaming and driving 102 mph on Gold Star Bridge

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Groton — A man who was live streaming as he raced across the Gold Star Memorial Bridge at more than 100 miles per hour crashed his car while still recording Saturday morning, state police said.

The driver, 23-year-old Kenneth Hofler of Middletown, was driving 102 mph in a 55-mph zone about 11:15 a.m. Saturday when a trooper conducting a speed check spotted him near Exit 84 in New London, according to state police.

While speeding, Hofler was using his phone to live stream a video of the road ahead of him and a shot of his speedometer. He was also driving with a suspended license.  

The trooper followed Hofler as he sped off the bridge at Exit 85 to Groton City, where he drove through the guardrail on the left shoulder and rolled over, police said. Hofler's video shows him losing control of the vehicle on the off-ramp and dropping his phone.

Hofler, who has an extensive criminal record and was free on a $35,000 bond from an October arrest, exited the car as the trooper pulled up. Police said he was also in possession of more than one ounce of marijuana. He was detained and then taken by ambulance to Lawrence + Memorial Hospital with suspected minor injuries, police said.

State police posted Hofler's livestream to their Facebook page with the message "sometimes a Trooper's accident report writes itself."

"Speeding and live streaming is not only dangerous, it is illegal," the troop reminded the public.

Hofler, whose criminal record dates back to 2014, was issued a misdemeanor summons for reckless driving, driving with a suspended license, driving without insurance, making an improper turn and possession of marijuana.

The vehicle, a red Nissan Versa, belonged to Michael Sagan of Middletown. About 40 feet of the guardrail was damaged, police said.

Court records and media accounts show Hofler was arrested Oct. 24 by Middletown police after allegedly firing a paintball gun at high school students having breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts there. He was charged with attempt to commit second-degree assault with a firearm, risk of injury to minor, first-degree reckless endangerment, criminal possession of a firearm, illegal discharge of a firearm, use of a firearm to commit a felony, third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace. He was released on a $35,000 bond.

In 2016, he pleaded guilty to breach of peace and sentenced to a 90-day prison term for harassing and threatening to shoot people walking by a downtown Middletown donut shop. 

In 2014, he was sentenced to six months in prison after pleading guilty to using a vehicle without the owner's permission and a subsequent violation of probation after police said he stole a car in Middletown, led them on a chase before crashing into a tree and nearly hitting two pedestrians.

In 2014, he was charged by Middletown police with fourth-degree larceny and violation of probation, pleaded guilty and sentenced to six months in prison.

In June 2017, he pleaded guilty to possession with intent to sell narcotics in Middletown and sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison. 

In December of 2018, he pleaded guilty to possession of more than a half ounce of marijuana in Middletown and sentenced to 60 days in prison.    

t.hartz@theday.com

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