Extrication of branch victim on Bridgeport/Fairfield line delayed by wait for utility crew
BRIDGEPORT — Firefighters waited nearly an hour Wednesday afternoon for personnel from United Illuminating Co., as a young man sat dead or dying after his car was crushed by a branch and entangled in downed power lines, witnesses said.
Numerous radio calls went out from Bridgeport and Fairfield fire departments calling UI to the scene on Park Avenue.
“Is there anyone who could intercept them and bring them in?” went a call from Bridgeport Fire, followed by a call from Fairfield Fire: “I need UI on a priority, unconscious victim in the car with wires on the car.”
And then shortly thereafter another call from Fairfield Fire: “UI could not provide an ETA.”
After UI personnel arrived, Jarrod Marotto was extricated from the car. The 21-year-old Sacred Heart University graduate from Southington was later pronounced dead at St. Vincent’s Medical Center.
Fairfield Police Capt. Robert Kalamaras, who said he was at the scene of the accident on Wednesday, indicated Thursday that there had not been a problem with UI’s response. But later Thursday he said, “In any situation we would like UI to respond immediately, unfortunately in this case it took an extended period of time.”
A UI spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of Wednesday’s calls for help.
“We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and loss of life,” said a statement from UI Spokeswoman Tara Morgan. “While we can’t comment on an open and active investigation, UI will provide any assistance necessary to the Fairfield Police Crash Reconstruction Unit in their investigation of the incident.”
On Wednesday night, Kalamaras said that at 5:16 p.m. the Fairfield Emergency Communications had received a call of a large tree limb landing on a vehicle in front of 3595 Park Ave., near the Bridgeport/Fairfield line. Bridgeport Fire Department dispatch communication indicated that Marotto was extricated at about 6:17 p.m.
“Further investigation revealed that Jarrod was driving southbound on Park Avenue when a large limb from a cottonwood tree was struck by lightning and fell striking the vehicle and Jarrod on the driver side,” Kalamaras said. “Jarrod was the only occupant in the vehicle.”
Marotto, who lived in an apartment near Sacred Heart University, was a popular student at SHU who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. His activities at the university included working in the student union, conducting interviews for Media Matrix and participating in Greek life. He was also a donor to the university, having made a senior gift last spring.
“It is with great sadness that we share the news of Jarrod Marotto’s death in a tragic accident when a tree fell on his car during last night’s storm,” said a statement from SHU’s magazine, Digital Citizen. “He was an editor and host of Digital Citizen in 2018. Jarrod was curious, studious, fun and well-liked by all.”
SHU President John J. Petillo issued a statement to the SHU community.
“It is with great sadness that I share with you the passing of Jarrod Marotto in a tragic accident when a tree fell on his car during last night’s storm,” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to Jarrod’s family and friends and to everyone in the SHU community who knew him. We will be keeping all of you in our thoughts and prayers. I will share details about services as soon as we receive them.”
For the past year Marotto had been working as a trainer at PhatBurn fitness studio in White Plains, N.Y.
“Jarrod was an unbelievable great guy and great team member,” said PhatBurn owner Paul Wintergerst. “He always brought this incredible energy to the studio and we are all in shock. Jarrod was just a good kid, he worked out, did his school work, was not a partyer.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said Fairfield Police Capt. Robert Kalamaras was not at the scene of the accident. Kalamaras said he was there. An earlier version also attributed the time of extrication to Kalamaras; that information came from Bridgeport Fire Department dispatch communications.