DANBURY, Conn. — A Danbury man was charged with manslaughter after leading an off-duty officer on a high-speed chase through a neighborhood that ended with his stolen Ford Explorer rolling multiple times, ejecting his passenger and killing her in December, state police said.
Ricardo Andre, 33, of 12 Durant St., was arrested Thursday by state police and charged with first-degree manslaughter, first-degree reckless endangerment, operating under the influence, and operating a vehicle without a valid license. He was held on $750,000 bond for a court appearance.
It was the second arrest in the case. The officer involved in the pursuit, Jamie Hodge, 39, of Danbury, was arrested Aug. 4 on a charge of reckless driving. Hodge was off-duty but working a private duty traffic job at the time of the pursuit.
The fatal crash occurred at about 10:40 a.m. Dec. 1 on Mountainville Road. The case was investigated by the Connecticut State Police, which released the arrest warrant Friday.
The incident began when Hodge, who was working an extra-duty job directing traffic on Center Street, spotted a 1997 Ford Explorer that he knew to be stolen, police said.
As Hodge approached the Explorer, the driver — Ricardo Andre — sped off, police said. Hodge took off after the Explorer in his own personal vehicle, a Chevy Tahoe, and called it into dispatch, according to police.
Andre, in the stolen Explorer with Hodge in pursuit, turned onto Town Hill Avenue, then went over a curb to turn onto South Street at a red light, police said. He then went through a red light at Main Street "at highway speeds," according to witnesses.
After turning onto Mountainville Road, the Explorer's right-side tires came off the pavement as Andre took a curve at 60 mph, police said. The SUV then struck a road sign and a utility pole before careening across the driveway of a home at 13 Mountainville Road, police said.
The speeding Explorer became airborne, hit a fence and flipped several times — nearly end-over-end, witnesses said — across the lawn, police said.
The passenger, Danbury resident Tiffany Fitzgerald, 26, was ejected from the car and died later of her injuries. Andre suffered serious injuries as well, police said.
The entire crash was recorded by security cameras at one of the nearby homes, the arrest warrant said.
The arrest warrant also said Andre was high on crack cocaine at the time of the pursuit and the crash. He had first met Fitzgerald that day at a crack house, where they had used drugs, and was giving her a ride, he told police.
On Dec 5, Andre was arrested on three warrants . The first charged him with sixth-degree larceny, violation of probation and two counts of second-degree failure to appear. The second warrant charged him with sixth-degree larceny, interfering with and officer/resisting, violation of probation and second-degree failure to appear.
The third charged him with first-degree reckless endangerment, interfering with an officer/resisting; reckless driving, engaging in police pursuit, illegal operation of motor vehicle under suspension and second-degree failure to appear.
The crash happened near the intersection of Mountainville and Mountain roads, near the border with Bethel and Redding.
Hodge, who was pursuing a stolen vehicle, "was operating his personal vehicle at a rate of speed as to endanger the life of any person,” said the arrest warrant.
He, who had been with the Danbury Police Department for about a year, resigned in March.
Hodge was released on $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on Aug. 22.
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