‘No more slaps on the wrist.’ DOT worker’s family demands change after deadly crash

Andrew DiDomenico was picking up litter along Interstate 91 in Wallingford last Friday, when a suspected drunk driver slammed into him at 9 a.m.

John Craven

Jul 2, 2024, 9:24 PM

Updated 12 days ago

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The family of a Connecticut Department of Transportation highway worker killed by a suspected drunk driver called for tougher penalties on Tuesday.
Andrew DiDomenico is the third death on the side of a roadway in the past month.
“NEED TO BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE”
DiDomenico was picking up litter along Interstate 91 in Wallingford last Friday, when a suspected drunk driver slammed into him at 9 a.m.
Surrounded by Gov. Ned Lamont and DOT leaders, the victim’s family said that enough is enough.
“No more slaps on wrist,” said Melissa Lombardi, DiDomenico’s aunt. “People need to be held accountable for their poor actions.”
Highway workers said Connecticut roads are getting much more dangerous.
“I’ve had some close calls in the two years that I did it,” said Wayne Savage, who worked as a flagger. “I had to jump out of the way.”
THIRD DEATH
DiDomenico’s death comes one month after Connecticut Trooper First Class Aaron Pelletier was also killed by a drunk driver. An arrest warrant alleges that the driver kept going for five miles. He faces second-degree manslaughter charges.
Weeks later, a construction worker was killed in a highway work zone in Hartford.
In DiDomenico’s case, Denise Lucibello, 55, was arraigned on Monday. For now, Lucibello is charged with driving under the influence – but prosecutors said the charges could be upgraded once toxicology tests come back.
TAKING ACTION
The state is taking action.
To protect highway workers, 15 work zones now feature mobile automated speed cameras.
“When a worker is killed by an impaired driver at 9 a.m., while picking up litter tossed out our windows, we have a much deeper crisis on our hands,” said DOT commissioner Garrett Eucalitto.
DOT has already installed 60 wrong-way driver detection systems, with 140 installed by the end of this year. Despite that, 2024 has already seen more wrong-way deaths than all of 2023. In all, more than 165 people have lost their lives on Connecticut roads this year.
Enforcement is a challenge. Connecticut State Police are still short-staffed, and forced to deploy manpower strategically.
“What we use is, statistical data from our accident reports – in injuries and fatalities,” said Capt. Benjamin Borelli. “And that will give us areas where they’re happening more frequently.”
Lawmakers have considered lowering the legal blood alcohol level from .08 to .05. The move reduced deaths in Utah, the only state to institute it so far.
“It’s something we’ve thought about,” Lamont said. “We’re having a hard time enforcing the rules we’ve got right now.”
But Republican leaders say Democrats aren’t doing enough – especially when it comes to marijuana.
“Their decision to commercialize marijuana, and even preventing police from stopping motorists who are smoking it while driving, has contributed to this crisis,” said House Republican Leader Vin Candelora (R-North Branford). “Their retail cannabis market, along with their persistent push to make the jobs of police officers more difficult, has created a hazardous environment for citizens, law enforcement professionals who patrol our highways, and state employees who work diligently to maintain them.”
DiDomenico's family agreed.
“Marijuana is legal. I can go right next door and buy whatever I want. And it’s no secret that people are leaving the shop, lighting up and taking off,” said Lombardi. “Our hope is for something positive to come out of this tragedy, so that no other family has to endure the pain and suffering that our family is feeling this week.”


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