MONROE, CT — A local mother intends to sue the school district and two transportation companies after her autistic 15-year-old-son was injured in a crash, while a driver from Kiddie Kabz took him home from ACES Whitney Academy in Hamden on May 27.
The driver allegedly watched a video on his cellphone moments before rear-ending a Honda CRV on Monroe Turnpike.
Michelle Widdows said her son, Shalom, jerked forward from the impact, causing injuries. He was taken to Monroe Urgent Care for neck and back pain.
“He has autism and diabetes,” Widdows said of her son. “He sustained a back injury, which required three months of physical therapy.”
Edmund Q. Collier Trial Lawyer LLC filed intent to sue letters on Widdows’ behalf on Sept. 28, sending notifications to Monroe Public Schools, Connecticut Transportation Solutions and its subcontractor, Kiddie Kabz.
On Tuesday, Katelyn Manning, Widdows’ attorney, told The Sun the gray Toyota Corolla the Kiddie Kabz employee was driving was registered to the company’s CEO, Tanya Chapman, and her husband and was on the couple’s private insurance, rather than being insured through the Hamden transportation company.
“There may be a coverage issue, because of that,” Manning said.
She also questioned whether Kiddie Kabz gave police the correct information on the identity of the driver involved in the crash, because Manning said video from the Ring camera at Widdows’ Monroe home appears to show a much younger man than the one in the police report, who will be 51 this year.
“The person named in the police report had no clue there was an accident,” Manning said of her own investigation.
Chapman declined to comment for this story.
Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza said the district does not comment on pending litigation.
“Shalom was injured. He has some back pain and has had physical therapy,” Manning said. “We would like him to be compensated for the pain he suffered and for the medical bills incurred from this unfortunate accident.”
“This accident obviously could have been prevented if the driver wasn’t distracted,” she said, “and I hope we can get to a resolution, and that this will not happen again, and people can feel safe having their kids brought to and from school with these transportation services.”
The police report
The accident occurred on Monroe Turnpike, near the intersection with Trefoil Drive in Trumbull.
Tamango Wayne Housley, 50, of 37 Bradley Ave. in Hamden, was identified as the Kiddie Kabz driver in the police report. Trumbull police determined he was at fault for the May 27 crash.
According to the police report, the investigation determined Housley followed too closely, left the scene of the accident, evaded responsibility and was distracted prior to the accident by use of his hand-held mobile phone.
At approximately 2:53 p.m. on May 27, a 26-year-old Milford woman who was heading north in her black 2015 Honda CRV, stopped in traffic, when police say Housley, who was driving behind her, struck her vehicle from behind in a gray Toyota Corolla.
Police said the Honda’s rear bumper was pushed in and it had undercarriage damage from the impact, and the Toyota had front end damage.
The woman told police she had a brief conversation with Housley and when she went back to her Honda to retrieve her identification and vehicle information and call the police, she said Housley drove off without making any attempt to exchange information with her, according to the report.
Housley later told police there was no damage to either vehicle, the other driver told him she was not injured, and that she said he could leave, the report said.
Video from a Ring camera at Widdows’ home shows Housley arrive in the Toyota Corolla and Shalom get out of the car, wincing in pain as he walks to the house. Then Housley gets out of the car and appears to try to fix the front bumper.
Widdows said Shalom told her wife, Karen, he was in a car accident. In the video, Karen is seen confronting Housley. She later said the bumper appeared to be crooked and falling off.
Shalom gave police a statement, telling officers Housley was watching video on his cellphone just before hitting the Honda from behind.
Widdows said neither Chapman, nor her driver at the time, showed up at the Trumbull Police Department to cooperate with its accident investigation.
“The Department of Transportation needs to put Kiddie Kabz on notice,” she said. “They are driving special needs children to and from school without adequate insurance coverage.”
“Coordinated Transportation Systems and Monroe continued to have my son driven in a car without adequate insurance coverage, and during an ongoing criminal investigation by the Trumbull Police Department,” Widdows said. “How is this acceptable?”