Police: Dog missing after owner killed in Vernon hit-and-run

Photo of Tara O'Neill

VERNON — An active member of the community was killed Tuesday in a hit-and-run accident while walking his dog near his home, according to police, who continue to search for the man’s missing puppy.

Police have seized “a vehicle of interest” after setting up a checkpoint near the location of the fatal accident.

No arrests have been made, but a person was in the vehicle at the time it was seized, Vernon police Lt. William Meier said during a news conference Wednesday evening.

Andrew Aggarwala, 44, of Vernon, was walking his puppy in the 100 block of Phoenix Street shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday when he was hit by a driver, police said during a press conference late Wednesday morning.

When first responders arrived, they found Aggarwala in cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at the scene, just a short distance from his house, police said.

The Vernon police drone unit returned to the scene of the crash Wednesday to attempt to locate Aggarwala’s missing puppy, but “so far the search has been unsuccesful,” Meier said Wednesday evening.

Several people have come forward with additional video, he said. Meier described the investigation as “active,” and said it would remain so through the night.

The vehicle was seized at the checkpoint on Phoenix Street near where the fatal accident occurred.

On Wednesday, police said Aggarwala was “very involved” in the Vernon community. He served as field director for the Vernon Soccer Club.

Keith Hodson, president of the club, said Aggarwala was “well-loved among our club. He will be missed.” He said Aggarwala was not just a board member and coach with the club, but a friend to all.

“Andrew was recognized with multiple awards for his volunteerism and community involvement,” Hodson said. Andrew was to be the recipient of our 2020 Volunteer of the Year for his dedication to the Town of Vernon and its youth. Our hearts break for his wife, kids and entire family. Each of us that knew Andrew were truly blessed by his kind, warm, and genuine personality.”

Hodson offered condolences on behalf of the soccer club to Aggarwala’s family.

Police said Aggarwala’s two children are in the Vernon Public Schools district, which made counselors available Wednesday.

After the crash, police said Aggarwala’s dog ran from the scene. Officers canvassed the area by ground and by drone Tuesday. The search continues Wednesday.

The puppy was described as about 45 pounds and black with a white face, nose and feet.

Investigators are following up on several leads, including analyzing footage that has already been submitted and pieces of evidence recovered from the scene, police said.

Police asked anyone living in the immediate neighboring roads around Phoenix Street to check surveillance cameras for any possible footage of the suspect vehicle from about 2:45 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday.

The investigation remains “very active,” police said.

Anyone with information is asked to call Vernon police at 860-872-9126.

Staff writer Peter Yankowski contributed to this report.