A Connecticut state representative on his way home from an inaugural ball to kick off the new term was one of two people killed in a wrong-way highway crash early Thursday, state lawmakers said.
Officials from across the state mourned the loss of State Representative Quentin Williams of Middletown, a city about a 20-minute drive south of the capital, Hartford. Mr. Williams was 39, according to State Senator Matt Lesser, who was acting as a spokesman for the family.
The crash occurred on Route 9 in Cromwell, just north of Middletown, at about 12:45 a.m. The Connecticut State Police said that a vehicle traveling south was hit head-on by another vehicle going north in a southbound lane. The southbound vehicle was “fully engulfed in flames,” according to the police.
The police did not release the names of either driver, both of whom were killed in the crash. It was not clear which car Mr. Williams was driving.
The state’s attorney general, William Tong, said in a statement that he met “Q,” as Mr. Williams was known, when Mr. Williams was an advocate for a local school in Stamford.
“I can only think of one word to describe him — hopeful,” Mr. Tong said. “Q was always brimming with optimism and possibility. He had a spirit that was relentlessly positive and aspirational. We need his light more than ever, and that’s why it is so hard to lose him.”
The mayor of Hartford, Luke Bronin, posted a photo of himself next to Mr. Williams at the party on Wednesday night, describing him as full of energy and passion for his work. The event was held at The Bushnell, a performing arts venue in Hartford.
“We are all devastated and heartbroken by the news this morning,” Mr. Bronin said at another event on Thursday morning.
Mr. Williams, a Democrat, was first elected in 2019 and had been sworn into office on Wednesday for his third term serving the 100th District, which includes downtown Middletown and Wesleyan University.
He was a lifelong resident of the city and the first African American to represent it in Connecticut’s General Assembly, according to his biography on the State House Democrats’ website.
He got his start in community banking in Hartford and then went into nonprofit management, becoming executive director of the Middletown Downtown Business District, and then director of advocacy and policy for Excellence Community Schools, a charter school network, the biography said.
He also co-founded the educational nonprofit EquityCT, served on the boards of many local groups and taught a leadership course at the University of Hartford, the biography said.