NORWALK, Conn. — A memorial service for State Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, 39, was held Saturday, after his untimely sudden death just before 1 am. Jan. 5 when the car he was driving was struck by another vehicle going the wrong way on Route 9 in Cromwell.
Though he represented Middletown, Williams’ the pain of his loss is keenly felt in Norwalk.
“‘Q,’ as he’s known, was always very vibrant and charged with energy,” Common Council President Greg Burnett (D-At Large) said Tuesday. “Several may not know that prior to him becoming a State Representative in 2019, Q worked with the Excellence Community Schools, and he hosted a group of Norwalk leaders to tour the Stamford Charter School For Excellence, and coordinated a delegation of Norwalk leaders and residents to present to the Connecticut State Board of Education to advocate for a Charter School of Excellence here in Norwalk. So his presence is not just in Middletown, but he had a very strong footprint here in Norwalk in terms of enhancing the educational experience for Norwalk students…. He will truly be missed.”
The school did not come to fruition, although Mayor Harry Rilling, the Norwalk Board of Education and the Rev. Lindsay Curtis were among the locals expressing support.
Council member Diana Révolus (D-District B) said it had been a “great honor” to work with Williams and she hoped that “maybe in his legacy, we may see the school happen in Norwalk at some point in time.”
All passings are hard but “this one hurt in particularly,” she continued. “I give my greatest condolences to his family. And I hope that his essence continues to remain in in Connecticut, in his area, his district and for all of us. He was a great staple in Stamford for the school of excellence. He fought hard for Norwalk. And I just hope we all continue that passion to make Connecticut that higher of a bar.”
Norwalk Bike/Walk Commission Chairman Tanner Thompson spoke to the Council, mentioning Williams’ “tragic death” and saying he hoped it would be a “wake up call and a note of warning to all of us.”
“About 40,000 People die this way every year in United States, including 300 people every year in Connecticut. That number is rising, and especially rising among pedestrians,” Thompson said. He hoped it would “motivate us to work harder to make our transportation system safer.”
Thompson said, “I firmly believe that diversifying our transportation system is key to that, so that more people have the opportunity to get around, for example, to travel back and forth to Hartford without a car so that we don’t have to take on the risk of of getting behind the wheel and getting on the highway.”
Williams was traveling home after attending the Governor’s Inaugural Ball. He had been sworn in for a third two-year term Jan. 4.
In July, the State Bond Commission approved $20 million for advanced wrong-way driving technology.
“When wrong way crashes happen, they are often fatal. Over the past several years CTDOT has been installing wrong way driving countermeasures. To augment these efforts CTDOT will launch a wrong way detection pilot program at 16 high-risk ramp locations. Installation will start in 2023,” a State news release said.
The high-risk ramps were chosen via a risk factor assessment of 236 locations.
“According to national research, ramp locations with on and off- ramps on the same side of the road have a higher risk of experiencing a wrong way event. If they’re on the same side of the road a driver may mistake the off-ramp for the on-ramp when trying to enter the highway,” the news release said.
None of the chosen ramps are in Norwalk or even Fairfield County.
“At each of these locations a 360-degree camera is being installed to detect vehicles driving the wrong way,” the release said. “Once detected, large, flashing, red wrong-way signs are activated to warn the driver of the vehicle that they’re going the wrong way.”
Then-Conn. DOT Commissioner Joe Giulietti said in October that 2022 was “by far the deadliest year in recent memory, with 22 wrong way fatalities occurring on the highways. In fact, 2022 exceeds the number of wrong way fatalities from the previous three years combined. With more than 85% of wrong way drivers found to be impaired, we need people to think twice before getting behind the wheel because one wrong move can be deadly.”