Legislative buildings were closed and committee meetings suspended on Thursday following the sudden death of Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams, 39, late Wednesday. According to Connecticut State Police, Williams was killed when the car he was driving was struck by another vehicle going the wrong way on Route 9 in Cromwell just before 1 am.
State police say that Williams’ car caught fire and he died at the scene before troopers arrived. His death was ruled an accident. The diver of the other car, identified as Kimede Mustafaj, 27, of Manchester, was also killed.
Williams had been sworn into his third term as the Democratic State Representative for Middletown earlier that day. He had recently been named chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee for the House of Representatives.
Following the announcement of his death Thursday morning, there was an outpouring of support and condolences from his fellow congresspeople and other state leaders.
“I am in shock,” said Speaker of the House Matt Ritter (D-Hartford). “Q was my dear friend and I am scarred by his sudden loss. We will have time to reflect on Q as a legislator in the weeks to come, but right now I deeply mourn my friend and send all of my love to Carrissa, Queen and Q’s family. We will all miss Q.”
“Q was a beloved friend and his passing even as I write this is still shocking and unfathomable,” said Sen. Matt Lesser (D-Middletown). “He and his family have meant so much to the Middletown community and personally to myself and my family. As a legislator he was a passionate and committed public servant whose intellect and warmth made our state a better place and the General Assembly a better place.”
Gov. Ned Lamont ordered flags in the state flown at half-staff in honor of Williams. They will remain lowered until midnight on the day of his burial. Plans for services have not yet been announced.
“This is devastating news, and I am incredibly saddened by this tragedy,” Governor Lamont said in a statement along with the announcement. “Quentin had an infectiously optimistic personality, and he absolutely loved having the opportunity to represent his lifelong home of Middletown at the State Capitol. Public service was his passion, and he was always advocating on behalf of the people of his hometown.”
Williams’ hometown of Middletown is planning a community vigil for this Friday at 7 pm on the South Green, according to NBC CT.
This tragic incident has once again brought to the fore the state’s ongoing struggle to combat wrong-way driving collisions. In July of 2022, the State Bond Commission approved $20 million in funding to install “advanced wrong-way driving technology on several state roadways, expanding an existing program past a 16-location pilot program.
The goal is to cut down on what was a record year for wrong-way collisions in 2022. By June of last year, there were 17 fatal wrong-way crashes in Connecticut. The Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) hopes the new technology, which includes sensors, cameras, and flashing lights, will help to curb those fatalities and provide much-needed information as to where wrong-way drivers enter state highways going the wrong direction.