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WCSU Student Dies From Hit-and-Run

A Western Connecticut State University student dies after being critically injured from a hit-and-run Tuesday.

A 19-year-old Western Connecticut State University student has died of his injuries after being struck by a vehicle described to be dark and boxy at about 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, university officials said.

The student was identified as Dong Lin, of Brookfield, university officials said. He was a nonmatriculated student enrolled in three entry-level classes this semester, officials said.

The Brookfield student was crossing White Street in the area of Hoffman Fuels when he was struck by the vehicle that then fled the scene, witnesses told police, according to a statement issued by University President James W. Schmotter. Lin was taken to Danbury Hospital where he died later Tuesday, a university spokesman said.

Campus and Danbury police are working on the investigation, officials said. The Danbury police's public information officer could not be reached for comment.

The university's counseling center at 203-837-8690 will provide counseling for anyone who needs to talk about the incident.

Correction: The student died from his injuries as a result of the incident. An earlier version of this article gave an incorrect status.

Christine E. November 24, 2011 at 02:59 AM
It takes an incident like this for something to be done? People have been hit more than once while crossing White Street...so really, nothing is ever done about it. What exactly do you guys expect to be done, anyway? The only thing that could be enforced is issuing tickets to people who jaywalk, and tickets to those who don't yield to pedestrians in cross walks. Doubt that will happen.
John Tuttle November 24, 2011 at 03:25 AM
I was there. The driver never even slowed down. Incidentally, a pedestrian ALWAYS has the right of way, regardless of location or circumstance. This does not mean that hitting a pedestrian is automatically a criminal offense; however, the onus is ALWAYS on the driver because s/he is the one operating a machine. Last evening, a moral obligation was violated--THAT is what makes this a crime. The driver's callous and wanton disregard for a human being's life, allowing that person to lie dying in the middle of the street, is what makes this a crime. This person will be caught. Karma is going to take the form of justice. Hopefully, none of you has ever witnessed the loss of a human life under such horrific circumstances, but I can assure you that if you had, you would not be squabbling about crosswalks and right-of-way. This driver absolutely knew s/he struck a person. S/he did not stop for whatever reason that could be attributed to shock or some other understandable reaction that is not necessarily tied to callousness, but after more than 24 hours, there is absolutely no indication that s/he has any intention of stepping forward, which is why the harshest sentence imaginable should be levied against this individual when s/he is apprehended. The bottom line is a 19-year-old young man is dead, and there is one person who does not seem to care who should care if s/he wants to be part of society. If that person does not care, then s/he should be removed from society.
TP November 24, 2011 at 03:39 AM
Perhaps a crossing guard would be useful
Lynn November 24, 2011 at 03:51 AM
God Bless him and his family - only 19 years young!!! His family is in my prayers as I cannot imagine losing my child. But honestly eventually some of us can learn from this if we know the facts... No crosswalk there? Yes, John Tuttle, the "onus is ALWAYS on the driver because s/he is the one operating a machine" Unfortunately this is why tragic accidents happen when drivers cannot see clearly...Wasn't it dark at 5:30 pm? I used to work in Danbury and White Street was busy traffic wise. I have a hard time watching out for traffic, cars turning and people... I am not advocating for a person who hit this young man - they should step forward and SHOULD PAY SOME PRICE FOR RUNNING even if indeed it is the case that this student crossed the road hastily, however, neglect on the subjects part needs to be considered also. Crosswalks are designated for a reason - clearer views, most likely near lights etc..... I am an avid pedestrian on the streets (as a constant walker) and I DO NOT RELY on cars seeing me cross the road, even if it is in a crosswalk!!!! There are many elderly people driving who really should not be driving, some drivers who are not capable of driving in congested areas, etc....
Carolyn November 24, 2011 at 04:21 AM
I hope they find the person who hit and killed this kid and ran. (Odds are, he/she was drinking.) God bless and help Dong Lin's family. Our hearts and prayers go out to you.
John Tuttle November 24, 2011 at 04:43 AM
I drive 160 miles a day. You have to watch EVERYTHING. People who cannot handle this should not be driving automobiles. Dong Lin did not materialize in front of that car; he came from the right side of the street. The car in the right lane managed to stop. The driver who struck him never applied the brakes. Yes, it was dark out, but let's not make White Street out to be a dirt road in the woods with no lights. Was the lighting fantastic? No. Was it sufficient to see a young man in a light grey sweatshirt and blue jeans? Absolutely. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye and applied my brakes. You have to scan your surroundings CONSTANTLY. The driver fled the scene of a fatal accident. THAT is the issue. It is impossible to begin to gauge culpability when the involved party flees the scene. When something like that happens, you stop. Period. The people who did not harm Dong Lin stopped. We were concerned for another human being. The person directly involved decided that stopping was of no importance. THAT is alarming. You cannot send a human being fifteen feet in the air over your car your car after striking him without realizing it. Accidents happen, but there is no place in society for such disregard for others' lives. THAT is why this person deserves to go to prison.
Timothy J Dalton November 24, 2011 at 05:11 AM
Its Amazing How people On Here Are Posting Comments About Students Should Have , Could Have..Bottom Line ? "Hit And Run "
Joan November 24, 2011 at 05:34 AM
The driver should have stopped, no question. Leaving the scene of an accident is a crime. I think the person who suggested a crossing guard is on to a good idea. Or traffic lights. Because I'm wondering, if Dong Lin came from the right side of the street, as you described, and the car in the right lane stopped, was the driver in the left lane able to see Dong Lin before he was actually in the path of his/her car? Was the car in the right lane that stopped a large SUV, or a truck? The driver in the left lane may not have been able to see past the vehicle on the right. I've heard that there have been many pedestrians struck on White Street and on Main Street. There has to be something wrong with this system of stopping at crosswalks, when so many accidents have happened. I always stop at them when I see a pedestrian, but I'm wondering if I would miss seeing a pedestrian if I were driving alongside a bus or a truck, or even a large SUV. It's a scary thought, and I wonder if there is a state agency that would do a study of this subject. Why on earth are there so many pedestrians struck? I don't want to cross streets in Danbury anymore unless there is NO traffic. At crosswalks, I always wait until I SEE that the cars are at a full stop. This can't be callousness or lawlessness of drivers in Danbury. There is something wrong with our traffic system. It's not working. It needs to be fixed.
Carolyn November 24, 2011 at 06:58 AM
Joan, you ask "why on earth are so many pedestrians struck?" If it is indeed true that so many are, I would like to volunteer that many Connecticut people (NOT SPEAKING ABOUT DONG LIN HERE, THAT IS ANOTHER ISSUE) seem to regard moving cars as automatic doors with infrared lights built in, that will automatically stop for them just because they step in the way. I'm saying this as someone who has lived in several states across the country--Maine, Ohio, Kansas, Arizona, and I was raised in New York. NO WHERE do people cross roads like they do here in CT. Honestly, CT people just step in front of and/or behind my MOVING car all the time. It has always alarmed and frustrated me.
M November 24, 2011 at 07:29 AM
To the friends and family of this boy, I am truly sorry for your loss and hope the memories you have shared may stay with you forever. He is watching over you this Thanksgiving, be thankful for the time that was spent with him and the memories created. Rest in peace.
brian November 24, 2011 at 03:23 PM
Just to let you people know.. Its a deadly road, the speed limit is 25 mph. Its a school zone, Cops even go 50 60 mph on that strait away. While responding, people tailgate, swerve around a car waiting for someone in the cross walk. Ive been working there for 4 years now and its like I 84 all day long.
Joan November 24, 2011 at 04:17 PM
I was googling this subject to see what other cities and towns have done to correct this problem, and I came across this from an article in USA Today titled "Cities Try to Improve Crosswalk Safety" from 2/24/2008: TUCSON, ARIZONA: A pedestrian traffic signal developed by Nassi helped increase the percentage of drivers who yield to pedestrians at intersections to 97% from 31%. The HAWK, which Tucson adapted from a signal used at railroad and firetruck crossings in England, is used at marked crosswalks where there is no traffic light. It's a beacon signal featuring a yellow-red lens visible to drivers. When a pedestrian wishes to cross, he pushes a button to activate the signal. A flashing yellow is followed by a solid yellow advising drivers to prepare to stop. The signal changes to a solid red for drivers, and the pedestrian gets a walk signal. The signal then converts to a flashing red, indicating that drivers may proceed when it's safe to do so after stopping. SEATTLE, WA: Seattle is considering adding buckets of bright orange flags for pedestrians to wave while in a crosswalk. They return the flag to another bin when safely across. Washington and cities in Maryland, Virginia and Utah use similar flags.
Observer November 24, 2011 at 05:39 PM
Thank you for your snide remark, Jenna, but I did read the article. If YOU read the article, you'd see that the article was updated. That was part of the new information. As for the rest of you...I knew my comment would be misinterpreted. I'm a very recent graduate, so I completely get it. Yes, ALL THE BLAME HERE IS ON THE DRIVER. However, students need to be as careful as possible, that's all I was saying. This is a tragic shame, condolences to the victim's family.
JMS63 November 24, 2011 at 10:56 PM
Years ago on Route 7 there were (and still may be) several Perkin-Elmer buildings on both sides of Route 7. Employees needed to cross the street periodically - sometimes two or three times per day. Drivers were loathe to stop for pedestrians.....however there was a population of geese who frequented the area - and let me tell you if a goose went anywhere NEAR the road, both sides of oncoming traffic stopped and waited patiently - smiling at the geese who needed to cross the road. The story was back then, was that the only way for a person to get across Rte. 7 = was to pick up a goose and cross. So sorry for this family whose son was killed so violently. Things will never be the same.
Sam Mihailoff November 25, 2011 at 10:08 AM
Yes, I often joke and sometimes take the verbal hits for doing so..but not in this case...Those of you who made light of this or made snide comments need to do some soul searching for your very inappropriate thoughts and comments. A PERSON WAS KILLED. My sincere condolences go out to the family... such a tragic loss
Wolfe November 25, 2011 at 11:22 PM
Every time a pedestrian is struck by a moving vehicle, it is the driver's fault. THAT IS THE WRITTEN LAW. I do not care if this student was of hispanic, asian, black, caucasian, or even nordic ancestry. He was a PEDESTRIAN!!! The DRIVER of the car is at fault. And, since it was a "hit and run", I would presume that the driver knew this and had other charges against his/her license that he/she wanted to keep to him/her-self and not let the police know about. Let us all work together and find this driver!!!!
Jenna November 26, 2011 at 12:35 AM
There is no written law saying that if a moving vehicle hits a pedestrian it's always the drivers fault. Where did you ever come up with that? You're going to tell me if a person jumps in front of a vehicle and the vehicle has no time to stop its the drivers fault? (I'm not saying this is what happened in this situation, just hypothetical) What if a person riding a bike or walking doesn't stop before they cross the road and just walk into oncoming traffic when you're 10 feet away? It is not always the drivers fault and there is no written law saying that it is. The only written law is that it is illegal to leave the scene of a crime which in this case the driver did.
John F. November 26, 2011 at 04:01 AM
What state statute is that which states the driver of a vehicle is always at fault? By your logic, I can go stand by the side of the road, wait for a car to come along, and jump in front if it last second, and they would be at fault? I don't think so.
John F. November 26, 2011 at 04:02 AM
With all these witnesses that were around to "see" this accident, no one noticed what make/model the car was, maybe color? No partial license plate? Nothing?
Christine E. November 26, 2011 at 04:08 AM
David, not true. I'd appreciate you citing the statute of which you are referring before making such a bold statement. While states don't necessarily prohibit a pedestrian to cross a roadway between intersections (if one of the intersections isn't controlled by a signal), states are very specific in also mentioning that a pedestrian not at a crosswalk must yield the right of way to approaching drivers. It's called Jay Walking, and if it were legal, it wouldn't carry a fine.
John Tuttle November 26, 2011 at 04:34 AM
If you've never witnessed something like this, you have no idea how quickly things happen and how shocking it is. Your first instinct is to call 911 and to check on the condition of the person who has been hit. It's very easy to know and say what people should have done when you've heard about the accident through the media long after it's occurred. When things are unfolding before you, it's not that simple.
John Tuttle November 26, 2011 at 04:43 AM
Drivers must always yield to pedestrians when possible, whether they are in a crosswalk or not. Obviously, if it is not possible for the driver to avoid hitting the pedestrian, the driver is not at fault. Had this driver remained at the scene, s/he most likely would not have been held responsible. Obviously, this driver will now be in tremendous trouble when apprehended.
Ruth November 26, 2011 at 12:17 PM
Mr. Tuttle, thank you for your excellent comments on this most tragic event. It seems that some people just do not "get" it and are arguing whether the driver is always at fault or not. It DOES NOT matter!!!!!! The point is that a human being was hit and ultimately died, and the person responsible did NOT stop. There is absolutely no excuse for this. This is not the world I grew up in anymore. Morals and values and respect and courtesy seem to be out the window. How can someone leave a person lying in the road? You are absolutely correct about driving as well. One must constantly be aware of what is going on around him. I am constantly looking, checking my rearview mirror, checking to see what is going on. People do not obey the rules of the road, nor do they use common sense. It is a "me, me, me" world and the heck with everyone else. This is a tragic loss of a human being. What else is there to say?
Joan November 26, 2011 at 02:31 PM
I'm so very sorry for the boy and his family. I think it does matter who is at fault, though. And what people have been saying is correct; the driver probably wouldn't have been held responsible if he/she had stopped. The crime was in not stopping, not necessarily in hitting a pedestrian. I blame the crosswalk system. I think the visibility is terrible in two lane traffic, and I'll think again before walking across streets at corners without traffic lights, especially at night. Dong Lin, unfortunately, is not the first person to be struck on White Street. I heard a WCSU prof. was struck on White St. recently. Years ago, I remember hearing of several pedestrians struck in similar situations on Main Street. Unless the driver was negligent and was say, texting while they were driving, or something really STUPID like that, I'll bet the driver simply didn't see the student until it was too late. It was raining that night, and it was dark. Also, in two lane traffic, buses and trucks can block visibility completely. I'd really like to see Danbury improve the crosswalk system on White Street and on Main Street. Other states provide tall, brightly-colored flags for pedestrians to carry across to increase visibility. Some states have very bright lights that are activated by the pedestrian when they're about to cross. Surely there are things WCSU and/or Danbury can do to prevent tragedies like this, or to at least decrease the number of incidents.
John Tuttle November 26, 2011 at 04:17 PM
There were no buses or trucks around. Visibility was less than ideal, obviously, but it was possible to see one's surroundings. There were no cars immediately in front of the driver involved. I was able to see Dong Lin. The driver who struck him never applied his brakes, which leads me to believe s/he never saw him. Whether s/he was otherwise preoccupied by something or was internally affected by something that limited or inhibited his or her ability to safely operate a car remains unknown because s/he did not stop the vehicle. We have no idea how culpable this driver was because we know nothing about him or her. We cannot even identify a gender--we have no grounds to cast blame or free people from it because we know nothing other than the very little we do know: a young man was struck and killed by a car driven by someone who did not bother to stop. The crosswalk rule in the state of Connecticut is utterly absurd. It relies totally on the common sense, discretion and attention of human beings. It must be changed. I grew up in Manhattan, and if every tenth person who crossed the street without care or regard for oncoming traffic or for his or her own safety was struck, a one-hour news program would have time to cover little else. The honor system, for lack of a better term, is inherently flawed, especially in urban areas with denser populations. Knowing this, the answer is simple. Fix it.
John Tuttle November 26, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Unfortunately, economics come into play when lights or signage are under consideration, which is an absolute disgrace. There is no dollar value that can be assigned to a human life. Unfortunately, many people are more inclined to pay attention to a light that connotes a traffic violation than they are to pay attention to another human being in the roadway. I believe people are arguing a couple of somewhat mutually exclusive issues. The crosswalk law, statewide, is a disaster that should be addressed. As it is presently constituted, people will continue to be struck and killed, regardless of who is at fault. Drivers who do everything within their power to avoid striking a pedestrian are almost always, if not always, freed from blame, provided there is not some condition within their control that made such an action impossible. Given the adverse conditions, the motorist who struck and killed Dong Lin most likely would have been freed from blame, provided s/he was not distracted by something that was within his or her control or was not affected by something that negated his or her ability to properly operate the machine s/he was driving. Of course, the ability to better determine what happened was denied by the only person who could provide any answers to the myriad questions people have been asking for days when s/he fled the scene of that horrible accident. The driver absolutely knew what happened: s/he never slowed down or applied the brakes; once Dong Lin was
John Tuttle November 26, 2011 at 04:19 PM
struck, s/he swerved to the left and slowed. S/he moved right for a moment, as if to pull over, and the next thing I knew, s/he took off. The bottom line is that on the evening of Tuesday November 22nd, an accident occurred. One of the two parties involved is incapable of giving his side of the story because he was killed. The only other party involved--the only one who had the ability to answer any of the questions countless people have had for days--chose to leave the scene without knowing the extent of the havoc s/he had wrought. When that car left the scene of that accident and that driver did not come forward shortly thereafter, any benefit of the doubt that I might have reserved for that individual dissipated. I hope that when this person is apprehended, the court uses the full extent of its power against him or her. Dong Lin is dead, and nothing that happens now will bring him back to life, but the person who left him lying on White Street should not have the ability to do that to another human being for as long as humanly possible.
John F. November 26, 2011 at 04:28 PM
You make the assumption some of us have never witnessed someone get struck by a car before. Not paying attention is what people do in a panic.
Nancy November 29, 2011 at 03:18 PM
John Tuttle's articulate and thoughtful comments are appreciated. And I agree with many who said that pedestrian crossing issues need to be much more aggressively addressed in Danbury, everywhere. Many times I have stopped for a pedestrian on Main Street or White Street and had a car in an adjoining lane or worse, behind me, pass and zoom past, nearly striking a pedestrian. But there also needs to be more education for pedestrians--I am not referring here to crosswalk/crossing issues, but to parking lots. More than 50% of the time when I am SLOWLY backing up in a parking lot, looking both ways repeatedly, a person walking through the parking lot will just go ahead and walk directly behind me as though challenging me to follow the "pedestrian always right" rule. Fortunately there has not yet been an accident. When I walk through a parking lot, I am always alert for car tail lights, movement, other signs that a person is about to pull out. What I see is many parking-lot pedestrians who never give this a thought;some of them are even texting and not looking where they are walking. Yes, ultimately it is still the driver's fault if there is a car/pedestrian clash in a parking lot; however, this also is an area of pedestrian safety that needs to be addessed. Parents with small children are VERY alert to this, but as people become more independent and no longer hold mom's or dad's hand, they often stop paying attention to parking lot safety.
Ashleigh November 29, 2011 at 07:57 PM
MCD - Jenna isn't saying that people should be mowing down every single person in the road, she's stating a simple fact. Pedestrians have the right of way in a crosswalk. You absolutely MUST stop if there is someone in a crosswalk... that isn't optional by law (even though there are TONS of motorists who completely disregard this). You also MUST stop if you see someone anywhere in the road. That being said, pedestrians must also obey by crosswalks and traffic lights. There is a lot of "I have the right of way so I'll just walk into the middle of this busy intersection when the light is green" mentality. Both parties need to be responsible.

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