Warrant: Wilton man may have been high, on phone during near-fatal Stamford crash

Brian O'Connell

Brian O’Connell

Contributed Photo / Stamford Police Department

STAMFORD — Police believe a 22-year-old Wilton man may have been high and distracted at the time of a serious car accident in October that left one of his passengers fighting for his life, according to his arrest warrant.

Brian O’Connell, 22, had elevated levels of THC in his system and is believed to have been on his cell phone at the time of the Oct. 16 crash, Officer Lindsey Yanicky wrote in the arrest warrant.

Mark Anderson, an expert at the state’s toxicology lab, told Yanicky that while he “would not definitely say O’Connell was ‘intoxicated’ by marijuana” at the time of the crash, he did say there was “a possibility” he was, based on the circumstances of the crash, the warrant said.

The warrant states that the traffic light at the Canal Street intersection had been red for nearly 38 seconds when O’Connell drove through it and was struck by another car exiting the Interstate 95 off-ramp in the area.

Yanicky wrote that O’Connell “made no effort to stop” at the red light. Sgt. Jeffrey Booth, supervisor of Stamford’s Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad, said O’Connell’s driving was later deemed “reckless in nature.”

While Connecticut does not have a standard for marijuana intoxication, Yanicky stated in the warrant that O’Connell’s THC levels were more than three times higher than legal limits in other states.

Phone records obtained by police also showed an outgoing call made from O’Connell’s cellphone at the exact time of the crash, which police believe may have been a contributing factor as well.

“Based on that it seems probable that O’Connell was attempting to make a call at the time of the crash and was looking at his phone and not at the red traffic control signal,” states the warrant.

The investigation ultimately led to O’Connell’s arrest Tuesday. He was charged with second-degree assault.

The warrant said O’Connell was the driver of a 2012 Ford Escape that went through a red light and was struck by a 2017 Jaguar that was driven by a 23-year-old Norwalk resident.

Both O’Connell and his passenger, another 22-year-old man from Wilton, were seriously injured in the crash, Booth said.

The passenger suffered life-threatening injuries, including several skull fractures and bleeding in his brain, the warrant said. The 22-year-old is still recovering from the crash, according to Booth.

The Norwalk woman and her passenger, a 26-year-old man from Stamford, were also treated for non-life-threatening injuries after the collision, Booth said.

Both vehicles sustained heavy damage in the crash, police said.

O’Connell is free after posting a $25,000 court-set bond. He is due in court for arraignment on April 6.