A man accused of causing a fiery crash that shut down a major Connecticut highway bridge and killed a fuel delivery truck driver has been charged with negligent homicide, police said Thursday.

State police said Reginald Collins, 59, turned himself in Wednesday after learning that authorities had issued an arrest warrant for him related to the April 2023 crash on Interstate 95, a major artery between New York and Boston. His lawyer denied the allegations and said they came as a surprise.

State police said Thursday that Collins was driving his car on the southbound side of the Gold Star Memorial Bridge between New London and Groton when he blew out a tire, swerved and stopped in the right lane instead of pulling onto the right shoulder.

A fuel delivery truck then crashed into Collins’ car, flipped over onto its right side and caught fire, state police said. The 42-year-old truck driver, Wallace Fauquet III, of Stonington, was killed. Collins was knocked unconscious, and he and a passenger in his car were pulled to safety by good Samaritans as the flames approached the vehicle.

The arrest warrant alleges Collins “created a traffic hazard by remaining stationary within the right acceleration lane and failing to move the vehicle out of the travel lane to a safe location.”

Collins’ lawyer, Anthony C. Basilica, said his client’s car was disabled when it came to a stop and he couldn’t get over into the shoulder.


The crash resulted in the southbound side of the bridge being closed for hours and causing a major disruption in traffic. The Gold Star Memorial Bridge comprises two steel truss bridges — one each for southbound and northbound traffic over the Thames River. It is Connecticut’s largest passenger and truck bridge at 6,000 feet (1,800 meters) in length.

The truck spilled about 2,200 gallons (8,340 liters) of home heating oil, and some of it went into the river. Videos from the scene showed flames burning and smoke rising from a lengthy section of the bridge and spreading to land on the Groton side. The fire damaged some protective fencing and the roadway, but did not damage the bridge’s structure.

Collins, of New London, was arraigned Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide with a motor vehicle, improper parking, failure to register his vehicle and illegally operating a vehicle without proper insurance coverage. He was released on a promise to return to court on June 4.

Basilica said Collins had just bought new tires and was taking a test drive when one of them shredded on the bridge. He said Collins is considering a lawsuit against the tire store and Fauquet’s estate. He said Collins is still dealing with injuries from the crash including neck and back pain and post-traumatic stress.

State police said Fauquet was not licensed to transport hazardous materials such as fuel, but that did not take away from Collins’ role in the accident.

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