Neighborhood urges motorists to 'Drive Like Your Kids Live Here'

By Joan Hunt - ReminderNews Managing Editor
East Hartford - posted Fri., Sep. 7, 2012

A neighborhood mourns and is pleading for speed controls, after 8-year-old Elijah Montalvan died from head injuries sustained when a car struck the bicycle he was driving on Thursday, Aug. 30.  Although the police investigation is still in progress, the initial report stated that Montalvan was struck down while riding his bike on Plain Drive around 11:30 at night by a car driven by Paul Gronda, 52, of Jaidee Drive. Montalvan died Saturday morning at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.

Both the victim and the driver lived in the neighborhood. Police have charged Gronda  with operating a vehicle with a suspended driver’s license and failure to show evidence of car insurance, but no other charges had been added prior to print deadline.

At least one neighbor reported that the vehicle driven by Gronda was speeding, but neighbors also said the bicycle veered out into traffic very quickly. What everyone seems to agree upon is that there is a lot of traffic in the Plain Drive neighborhood and many people – a combination that is dangerous and deserves attention. Mayor Marcia LeClerc noted that she was previously unaware of the situation and would be looking into it.

“Ghost bikes” painted white and placed near intersections where fatal bicycle accidents have occurred in East Hartford already commemorate sites where Daniel Schultz was killed in November 2011, William Laramie in September 2011 and Manuel Herrara in May 2010 – all of these accidents having taken place on Burnside Avenue.

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