NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) – State police said they’re looking for witnesses after an off-duty New Haven firefighter was struck and killed on Interstate 91 Wednesday.
Troopers identified the victim as 27-year-old Thomas Mieles.
The New Haven Fire Department’s fire chief released a statement on Thursday morning during which he said Mieles had just joined the department in January.
“It is with great sadness of heart that the New Haven Fire Department announces the passing of Fire Fighter Thomas Mieles,” said Chief John Alston. “Firefighter Mieles, a New Haven resident, fulfilled his dream of becoming a New Haven firefighter, this year by joining the department on Jan. 12, 2022.”
State police said a Mieles’ vehicle had first become disabled on I-91 north in the area of exit 8 in New Haven.
A second and third driver stopped directly ahead of Mieles in the left lane to help him around 9:40 p.m.
A fourth driver who headed northbound in the left lane approached the three pulled over vehicles.
Meanwhile, a fifth driver, who also drove northbound, was in the left-center lane.
State police said the fourth driver struck the Mieles’ vehicle, which pushed it into the rear of the second driver’s vehicle.
The fourth vehicle then continued forward and sideswiped the fifth driver’s vehicle on its driver’s side and hit the third vehicle’s passenger side.
After it was sideswiped, the fifth driver’s vehicle entered the left lane and struck Mieles.
Mieles suffered what was described as life-threatening injuries. State police said he was brought to Yale New Haven Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Minor injuries were reported for the drivers of the second, third and fourth vehicles.
Anyone with information, or with dashcam video, was asked to contact state police at 203-393-4200.
“Firefighter Mieles’ current assignment was protecting the neighborhood he lived in, at Engine 10, the Lombard Fire Station,” Alston said. “All department flags will be lowered to half mast, in honor of his service to our city. We ask your kind thoughts and prayers, during this time of bereavement for his family, friends, and department members, as they grieve this tragic loss.”
Alston said that never in their wildest dreams did they realized that a person who needed to be rescued would be one of their own.
“It’s been a very difficult time for our department,” he said.
He said Mieles was proud to protect the neighborhood in which he grew up.
His death was another tough chapter for a department that has lost members out of the last three consecutive rookie classes.
“Will McMillian in class 61, Ricardo Torres in class 62 and now Thomas Mieles in class 63,” Alston said. “It’s a young department that has to deal with a lot.”
Alston said Mieles left behind a family, a fiancé and a broken-hearted Engine 10.
“[He] loved his job,” said Ibrahim Cheek, New Haven firefighter. “Real good-hearted person.”
Comfort dogs were brought in not only to support firefighters at Mieles’ station, but the entire department.
State police said they’re looking for witnesses after a New Haven man was struck and killed on Interstate 91 Wednesday.
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