Jacob Coffey was driving home from a country concert at nearly twice the speed limit when he allegedly drove his Jeep through a red light and struck a car driven by Luke Roux, a recent Farmington High School graduate who was killed in the crash, according to the arrest warrant obtained Tuesday by the Hartford Courant.
Coffey, who was arraigned in Superior Court in Hartford Tuesday , had a blood alcohol level of 0.23 when he was treated at a hospital after the crash on the night of June 25, according to blood samples retrieved at Hartford Hospital, evaluated by forensic experts and reviewed by police, records show. In Connecticut, you are considered to be legally intoxicated if you have a blood alcohol level of 0.8 or higher, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The 21-year-old Farmington resident was arrested by Farmington police last week on charges of first-degree manslaughter, operating a motor vehicle under the influence, reckless driving, red light violation and speeding greater than 60 mph. The warrant for his arrest detailed the alcohol-involved crash that killed 17-year-old Roux while he was on his way home from a summer baseball game.
Farmington Detective Jason Hughes, who penned the 12-page warrant affidavit, wrote that investigators found empty cans of Bud Light and Busch Light beer and two empty 50-milliliter bottles of Fireball whiskey on the front passenger floor of Coffey’s Jeep, along with an empty beer can in the driver’s side door pocket and another empty Bud Light can and two more Fireball bottles of the same size in the Jeep’s rear cargo area.
Coffey allegedly told police after the accident that he had consumed “a beer and a half” that night. He later told paramedics in an ambulance that he’d had four beers, according to the warrant affidavit.
At Hartford Hospital that night, Coffey allegedly told a social worker that he’d been drinking at a country concert “but he didn’t feel that he had drunk ‘too much’” and remembered feeling sick, prompting him to leave the Xfinity Theater in Hartford before the concert was over, the warrant affidavit said.
A social worker at the hospital reported that Coffey said “that the whole accident is a blur,” according to the warrant.
Around 8:30 p.m., Coffey was driving his Jeep Cherokee as fast as 82 mph in the five seconds leading up to the crash in an area of Colt Highway with a clearly posted speed limit of 45 mph, investigators said in the warrant affidavit.
The traffic light he drove through had been red for 18 seconds when he allegedly sped through it, according to a police analysis of traffic patterns on Birdseye Road and Colt Highway.
Roux was two miles away from home and two months away from starting his adult life at the University of Connecticut when the Volkswagen Golf he was driving was struck. He was driving between 14 and 28 mph — well under the speed limit — in the seconds leading up to the crash, according to the warrant affidavit.
Roux had graduated from Farmington High School a month prior and ”was wildly optimistic about what came next” as he planned to join his two older brothers, Nathan and Edison Roux, at UConn in Storrs in the fall, according to his family.
On the night of the crash, Roux’s team had won their baseball game in five innings and Roux was “beaming” about the win, a teammate told his family. He was headed to his parents’ home in the close-knit neighborhood where he’d grown up, presumably for his typical postgame snack and chocolate milk, when his car was struck.
He was rushed to the University of Connecticut Health Center, where he was pronounced dead at 9:21 p.m., according to the warrant affidavit. An autopsy found he died of blunt force trauma to the head, torso and left lower extremity, officials said.
Around the same time, police were interviewing 21-year-old Coffey after he was taken to Hartford Hospital.
According to the warrant, Coffey told Farmington police Officer Richard Bianchi, who arrived on the scene within 20 seconds of the crash and tried to save Roux’s life, that he wasn’t hurt but “just wanted to go home.”
He also told Bianchi that he had two to three Michelob Ultra beers at the concert and didn’t remember seeing another vehicle at the time of the crash, the warrant affidavit said. He told Bianchi he was driving about 40 mph and went through a yellow light but “didn’t remember going through a red light,” the warrant said.
Bianchi was patrolling the area of Colt Highway from a parking lot near Nardelli’s Grinder Shoppe at 345 Colt Highway that night when he saw Roux’s Volkswagen drive by. Seconds later, he heard a loud bang. He immediately drove to the intersection where he found a serious motor vehicle accident, the warrant said.
Video footage from Nardelli’s security camera showed the Jeep entering the intersection driving westbound, ignoring the red light and colliding with Roux’s car, according to the warrant. At the scene, and at their home later that night, police also interviewed a witness who had been stopped at a red light about two seconds before the crash and veered to the right to avoid being struck by Coffey’s Jeep as it drove through the intersection.
Police executed search warrants for Coffey’s Jeep — including one for data that shows the vehicle’s speed and acceleration at the time of the crash — along with hospital records for his blood samples taken that night that were turned over to a state lab in Meriden in early July, according to the warrant.
Medical records state that he was “heavily intoxicated” at the time of the crash, police said in the warrant.
Charles Grasso, a crash data liaison employed by UConn’s transportation and safety research center and a retired Enfield police sergeant with extensive experience investigating motor vehicle crashes, examined data from the Jeep. He determined that in the five seconds prior to the collision, Coffey was driving between 64 mph and 82 mph — 19 mph and 37 mph above the posted speed limit, the warrant said. He didn’t brake until 0.7 seconds before colliding with Roux, police said in the warrant.
Hughes wrote in the warrant that, based on an extensive investigation, Coffey was “recklessly operating a motor vehicle west on Colt Highway” and sped through a solid, properly functioning red light at the time of the crash.
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Coffey’s charge of first-degree manslaughter is a Class B felony, punishable upon conviction by a prison term of up to 20 years, a fine of up to $15,000, or both, according to state law.
A person can be found guilty of first-degree manslaughter in Connecticut when they’re found to have caused serious injury or death to another person while displaying “an extreme indifference to human life” by engaging in reckless conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person, according to The Connecticut General Assembly Office of Legislative Research.
A person’s actions are considered reckless under the law when they are aware of, and consciously disregard, a substantial and unjustifiable risk, according to state law.
Coffey is free on a $250,000 bond, according to court officials. He is scheduled to appear in court next on Sept. 20 in Hartford, according to court records.
Roux’s family, who have spoken out about their son’s death, did not attend the arraignment Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for the family.