Driver Arrested in Hit-and-Run Crash That Killed Haddam Teen

Police at the scene of a hit and run that killed a teen in Haddam
NBC Connecticut

State police have arrested the driver they say hit and killed a 14-year-old girl in Haddam in July.

Thomas Cretella, 27, turned himself in to state police at Troop F in Westbrook Monday morning.

Investigators say Cretella was driving his 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe on Route 81 in the Higganum section of Haddam around 10:30 p.m. on July 29 when he hit Gianna Vincelett as she rode her bike with a friend. He did not stop at the accident scene, police said.

The teen was rushed to the hospital, but died a few days later.

After seeing an email from the school district about Vincelett being hit, Cretella's stepmother called police the next day when she noticed her stepson's Santa Fe had front-end damage and matched the description of the vehicle being sought in connection with the crash, according to the arrest affidavit.

When police first spoke to Cretella, he admitted to using heroin on the night of the crash and that he drove from East Haven to his home in Haddam but he did not remember anything about his drive home, according to court documents.

Cretella overdosed on heroin hours after arriving home the night of the crash, but told investigators he did not know if he used more heroin when he was home.

He told investigators he had been struggling with depression after ending his five years of service with the U.S. Marines and had turned to alcohol and experimenting with heroin, according to the arrest affidavit.

In a later interview with police with his attorney present, Cretella said he remembered parts of his drive home that night and that he remembered playing video games when he got home but didn't remember hitting Vincelett.

As part of their investigation, police also took evidence from Cretella's vehicle, which included DNA belonging to Vincelett, according to court documents.

Cretella is charged with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, evading responsibility involving a death, and improper passing. He was held on $250,000 bond and was expected in court Monday afternoon.

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