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HomeNewsHaddam Town NewsArrest made in July hit-and-run that killed Higganum student

Arrest made in July hit-and-run that killed Higganum student

Info from police report.

On Monday, Oct. 18, 2021, police arrested Thomas A. Cretella, age 27, of Higganum for the hit and run accident on July 29 that killed a student, later identified as Gianna Vincelett, age 14, who would have been a freshman at Haddam Killingworth High School a month later.

Gianna Vincelett and a friend were bicycling on Route 81 in Higganum around 10:30 p.m. on July 29, riding in accordance with State Statues, when Gianna was struck from behind by a vehicle that evaded the scene of the accident. Gianna was taken to the hospital where she died from her injuries. A vigil was held in town on August 7.

On the night of the hit and run, debris from the evading vehicle was located on the roadway and grassy area off the northbound travel lane. The debris was later determined to be from a Hyundai Santa Fe.  The CT State Police then sent out a press release asking for the public’s help in locating and identifying the vehicle.

On July 30, Troop F received a call from Janessa Cretella, who explained that her stepson’s vehicle matched the vehicle description and had fresh damage on it. In a followup call from Detective Stanger, Ms. Cretella explained that Thomas did not remember anything from the night of July 29, and that police and EMS had responded to her residence at 4:30 a.m. due to Thomas being unresponsive from an “apparent heroin overdose.”

Cretella later told police that on July 29 he traveled to East Haven, used heroin, then drove home to Higganum. Cretella said he did not remember much of the drive home, and did not remember if he was involved in a collision.

After more than two months of intensive investigation by the CT State Police, Troop F patrol personnel, detectives within the Central District Major Crime Squad, and the Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad, Cretella is being charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, as well as evading responsibility, and improper passing. Cretella is being held on a $250,000 bond. He was arraigned on Oct. 18, 2021.

To read the entire CSP report, go to this link.

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