Video could uncover clues after car plows into crowd
NEW LONDON, Conn. – A video surveillance tape might help police determine what caused a man’s car to plow into a crowd and injure 27 people at a festival.The victims, whose injuries ranged from scrapes to severely broken bones, were treated at a hospital after the crash Saturday and released later that day and early Sunday.The driver, 89-year-old Robert Laine, was uninjured, and no charges have been filed.Reached at his home by telephone Sunday, Laine said, “I have no comment. I’m upset. I’m very upset.”Police believe the accident, which happened near a train station, was caught on tape by an Amtrak surveillance camera.Police impounded Laine’s Chevrolet station wagon and plan to have a mechanic examine it, Capt. Kenneth Edwards said Sunday. A witness said a shaken Laine told her after the crash that his gas pedal had stuck.Police also are interviewing Laine, the victims and dozens of witnesses who were attending the city’s annual Sailfest.”It was a very fluid scene with people walking around, some on the ground, some injured on top of each other. So to slowly put the pieces back together doesn’t happen overnight,” Edwards said.The accident happened about 3:30 p.m. at a railroad crossing where crowds had gathered on both sides of the gates as a train passed. When the gates lifted, Laine’s vehicle began to cross and struck a pedestrian.New London Mayor Elizabeth Sabilia said that Laine appeared to have panicked when his car struck the person, and that the car then lurched into the crowd.U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont was among that group. Lamont, who is challenging Sen. Joe Lieberman for the Democratic Party nomination, was not injured, but three of his campaign workers were.Information was not available Sunday on Laine’s driving record.Laine’s neighbors at a senior citizen complex told The New Haven Register that he was heading to the ferry for Fishers Island, N.Y., to help his grandson fix a boat. Neighbors said they grew worried when Laine didn’t return later Sunday and were shocked to hear of the incident.”He’d do anything for anybody,” resident Lillian Greatorex told the newspaper. “He doesn’t drink or anything like that.”Police said family members took Laine back to his home. A female passenger in his vehicle was not identified, and was not injured.