Student injured in icy car crash

David Hutter

Quinnipiac senior Ben Shapiro was seriously injured around 2 a.m. Friday when his 2004 Mazda careened over a bridge on Skiff Street in Hamden and plummeted into the Mill River, his relatives and friends confirmed Sunday.

At press time Monday, Shapiro was in intensive care at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Shapiro was unconscious and not breathing when emergency personnel responded to the accident scene, his father Michael Shapiro and mother Susan Shapiro told The Chronicle in an interview conducted in a corridor of the hospital Sunday afternoon.

“His condition is still quite guarded. He has made significant progress in the last 48 hours,” said Michael Shapiro, who is a surgeon in Massachusetts. “We do not know the extent of his injuries and we may not know for at least several days or several weeks. . I can’t tell you if Ben will be at graduation.”

Susan Shapiro said that she believes another motorist must have witnessed her son’s car accident and immediately called rescue personnel.

“We don’t know who called 911. We just want to thank whoever reported the accident and got him out of the submerged car that was upside-down in the river,” Susan Shapiro said.

Ben is studying media production and computer information systems and is from Wayland, Mass. Among his injuries are a fractured cheekbone, his father said. Ben will be undergoing surgery in the near future to recover from this injury Michael Shapiro said.

In the hospital corridor not far from Ben’s room, about 10 friends and six family members spent Sunday afternoon talking to each other in subdued voices about their hope for Ben to recover from his injuries. Ben’s parents are thankful for the person who called 911, the emergency personnel who responded to the scene, the hospital workers who are caring for Ben, and all the people associated with Quinnipiac University who care for their 23-year-old son.

“On behalf of Ben’s family, we are deeply touched by the warmth of the extended Quinnipiac University community. From the mass communications students to the faculty and staff, everyone’s been terrific. Everyone has offered whatever help they can,” Susan Shapiro said.

Given the severity of Ben’s injuries, his parents are asking that his friends and acquaintances not visit him.

Many of the students who gathered in the corridor of the intensive care unit at Yale-New Haven Hospital on Sunday had met Ben through working together at the Q30 student television station, of which Ben is the manager. Most students did not want to be interviewed.

The student media organization issued a statement: “On behalf of Q30, we want to thank everyone for their concern and support for Ben. Our thoughts are with him, and we are hoping for the best.”

The cause of the car crash has been attributed to icy roads, Ben’s parents said. A toxicology report conducted at the hospital showed that Ben had not consumed alcohol or other drugs prior to the crash, his parents said.

As snow flurries fell outside the expansive glass-windowed corridor where Ben’s friends and family members shared hugs and fond anecdotes about Ben, their faces appeared melancholic as they expressed their hope for Ben to recover and return to school.

Narem Kelso has been friends and roommates with Ben for two and one-half years. Kelso was awoken early Friday by the ringing of his phone. He heard a friend’s voice tell him that Ben had been in a car accident. Kelso was incredulous.

“I got the call and heard the news and thought: ‘That can’t be possible. Ben is right here, sleeping.’ So I ran into (Ben’s) bedroom and saw that his bed was empty,” said Kelso, a junior from Stockbridge, Mass.

Also on Sunday, Quinnipiac University released a statement in the wake of Ben’s car accident.”Ben has made many friends on campus, not only among the student body, but among the faculty and staff as well,” said John Morgan, a university spokesman. “I know the university community joins me in hoping that Ben makes a full recovery and returns to campus to complete his studies very soon.”

On Friday, Hamden Police issued a press release on the accident. It read in part: “At 1:44 a.m. on February 16, a 2004 Mazda operated by Benjamin Shapiro was traveling westbound on Skiff Street when it veered off the road and hit a bridge abutment. After striking the cement abutment, the Mazda slid down an embankment and landed in the Mill River. . Hamden Fire Rescue extracted Shapiro from the Mazda and transported him to Yale-New Haven Hospital.”

For updates on Shapiro’s condition, pease visit throughout the week.