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10 Years In Jail For Park Street Hit-And-Run Driver

Hilda Muņoz

May 04, 2010

Instead of celebrating Angel Arce Torres' birthday Monday, his family attended the sentencing for Luis Negron and spoke for nearly two hours about the kind of man Torres was before the hit-and-run on Park Street that took his life.

Through poetry, tearful recollections and a 65-picture slide show, relatives spoke of a man who had dedicated himself to helping his community and to his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Negron was sentenced at Superior Court to 10 years in prison. He had pleaded guilty in February to first-degree manslaughter and evading responsibility.

In court Monday, Negron turned briefly toward Torres' family before uttering a tearful apology.

"I want the family to know, I didn't plan this. It just happened. I'm very sorry. I worked so hard for everything I had. I didn't want to evade responsibility, I was scared of this," Negron said.

Negron had eluded arrest for a year after the accident May 30, 2008. He denied his involvement to police and ignored the pleas from Torres' family that the person responsible turn himself in.

The accident gained national attention after Hartford police released video that showed Torres lying in the road as seemingly indifferent pedestrians passed by.

One of his attorneys, Carmine Giuliano, said that Negron had turned his life around before the accident. He had a criminal record, but had stopped using drugs and went to work to support his wife and daughter. He didn't go to police after the accident because he worried about who would care for his family.

"From the moment he decided not to turn himself in, he wore a rock around his neck. His daughter didn't bring him joy. ... The freedom he had for that year wasn't real freedom," Giuliano said. In a pre-sentencing investigation, Negron said he prayed that Torres would recover.

Torres, who would have turned 80 on Monday, was hospitalized for a year after the accident before his family took him off life support. He died May 11, 2009.

Tips from the community and an interview with Negron's wife helped police arrest Negron days later.

Four things Torres loved most in life were his family, work, fishing and dominoes, family members said. Torres and his wife of 50 years, Gladys, had seven children, 17 grandchildren and more than 30 great-grandchildren.

One of his granddaughters recalled how he drove her to work every morning for three years so she wouldn't have to take a bus.

For years, he also dedicated his time to bringing computers, teen pregnancy prevention programs and Christmas gifts to children in Hartford housing projects, his son, Angel Arce said. He helped teenagers from Stowe Village get to college and helped fathers get training in construction, he said.

In the slide show, Torres is seen holding up fish he'd caught, celebrating his 20th year at Holo Krome Co., where he worked as a forklift operator for 30 years, and spending Christmas with his grandchildren.

Pictures of him after the hit-and-run were also shown. In the first, he appears among a tangle of tubes and wires. Paralyzed from the neck down, Torres is later seen celebrating his 50th wedding anniversary in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace.

Pictures of his final moments before his family took him off life support were also shown.

"One breath. He took one breath and he was gone," Arce said. "I have to live with that the rest of my life."

A 10-year prison sentence is not justice for Torres or what his family has been through, Arce said. He said he had been hoping the court would send a message "that the state of Connecticut isn't going to tolerate this type of behavior."

Visit courant.com/hitandrun for more coverage, including video, pictures and legal documents of the fatal accident and investigation.

"I want the family to know, I didn't plan this. I'm very sorry. I worked so hard for everything I had. I didn't want to evade responsibility." Luis Negron, sentenced to 10 years in prison

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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