OXFORD -- A passenger involved in a car accident that killed 15-year-old Brandon Giordano of Oxford says he told the driver to slow down and stop for a Seymour police officer who chased them on the night of March 9.
But Eric Ramirez didn’t stop. He didn’t slow down. He didn’t respond at all.
Instead, he continued to accelerate and “passed cars driving in the same direction on the wrong side of the road and had to swerve back into the lane to avoid hitting cars head on,” 16-year-old Dion Major told police. “I would estimate Eric was driving between 70-80 mph.”
In fact, police estimate that Ramirez’s 2000 Ford Mustang convertible reached 91 mph at one point during the chase; it eventually struck an embankment on a turn on Old State Road No. 67 at a rate of 61 mph, twice the speed limit in that area. The car, carrying three teens, flew some 59 feet and hit a building head on before landing upside down, trapping all three teens in the car and killing Giordano, the backseat passenger, on impact.
The above account comes from an arrest warrant affidavit unveiled for the first time Monday at Derby Superior Court. That is where Ramirez, now 20, appeared before a judge for the first time after being charged last month with misconduct with a motor vehicle, reckless driving, engaging police in pursuit and two driving infractions.
A sullen looking Ramirez, accompanied by his parents and another family member, did not say a word in court. He also declined to speak with members of the media.
“He is devastated by this tragedy,” said his attorney, Tara Knight, who described Giordano as a “very close friend of his.”
Ramirez, of 3 Wood Road, did not enter a plea and his case was continued to Oct. 25. Knight said the long continuance stems from the fact that there are several documents in the file that need to be reviewed. She would not comment further.
If convicted of misconduct with a motor vehicle, a Class D felony, Ramirez, who had been through two driver retraining courses prior to the accident, could face between one and five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
No Alcohol or Drugs Involved
NOTE: The following information comes from the six-page affidavit (the full document is attached as a PDF to this article):
During the accident, Ramirez suffered head, neck and other injuries for which he was hospitalized. He later told investigators in a written statement that he had no recollection of the accident or his run-in with police.
Major told investigators that none of the three had drunk any alcohol during on the night of March 9; toxicology reports of Ramirez’s blood test results would later reveal that he indeed did not have any alcohol or drugs in his system.
Major said the three went to a favorite Chinese restaurant and then headed to the New Haven Yacht Club to eat. Ramirez headed back toward Oxford before a Seymour police officer tried to pull him over for illegal blue LED lights that he had attached to the undercarriage of his car.
Ramirez did not stop for the officer and, instead, accelerated to avoid him. He turned off all lights on his car in an apparent attempt to be discreet and avoid the officer.
Vehicle was “Absolutely Flying”
The affidavit quotes witness Steven Landi, the general manager at The Golf Club at Oxford Greens, who said he saw the Mustang pass him as he was on his to make the nightly business deposit at a local bank.
“He flashed his headlights to advise the other driver his headlights were off,” the affidavit states about Landi’s actions that night. “The vehicle continued traveling toward him without its headlights on, and as it got closer, he realized the vehicle was absolutely flying. The vehicle was kind of riding the yellow center line, so he moved right. Mr. Landi stated he noticed flashing lights further back, and he realized they were police lights.”
The Seymour officer who engaged in the pursuit, Anthony Renaldi, stated in the report that he tried to pull the car over because of the lights. He said he chased the Mustang briefly before stopping the pursuit due to the high rate of speed in which Ramirez was driving. Renaldi said he later came in contact with a state police officer near the Oxford-Seymour line and explained the situation. Renaldi and the trooper drove off to look for the vehicle and quickly came upon it laying upside down in front of a building at 43 Old State Road No. 67.
All three teens in the car were pinned underneath the vehicle, according to the affidavit. Emergency crews extricated all three and brought Major and Ramirez to local hospitals. At 12:13 a.m. on March 10, Brandon Giordano was pronounced dead on the scene by a paramedic.