Looking back at Manchester in 2013: Part 2

By Corey AmEnde - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Dec. 26, 2013
A fire on Oct. 12 destroyed a historic building on Main Street that housed Great Harvest Bread Company, Connecticut Valley Coin and some apartments. File photo by Corey AmEnde.
A fire on Oct. 12 destroyed a historic building on Main Street that housed Great Harvest Bread Company, Connecticut Valley Coin and some apartments. File photo by Corey AmEnde.

Although there were many things to celebrate and enjoy in Manchester during the year 2013, the second half of the year was also marred by the tragic deaths of two brothers in a car accident in July, the fire on Main Street and a triple-murder suicide.

The first of these tragedies took place in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 14, when brothers, La’Andrew Evans-Swain, 16, and Robert Swain, 18, died when the car they were riding in veered off of Forest Street in East Hartford and crashed into a tree.  Robert, who had just graduated from East Hartford High School in June, was pronounced dead at the scene.  La’Andrew was transported to Hartford Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

La’Andrew was a student at Manchester Regional Academy and was described by Principle Bruce Thorndike as, “very friendly and very supportive of his peers. When new kids came into school, I knew I could count on him to teach them how things are and help integrate them. He had that quiet leadership,” said Thorndike.

More than 1,000 cars lined Main Street on Sunday, Aug. 4, for the 13th annual Cruisi'n on Main Street. The event drew more than 30,000 spectators who came from all over to look at the classic cars and trucks. This past year’s event was dedicated to John “Fancy” Thrall, who passed away in March.

Manchester Community College celebrated its 50th anniversary on Sept. 17, as dignitaries, faculty and students enjoyed a piece of cake. The birthday cake and other snacks for the event were all prepared by the Culinary Arts Department at MCC. “I am very proud of MCC. They have come a long way over the past 50 years. This is a major milestone for them,” said Mayor Leo Diana.

A smoky fire on Oct. 12 destroyed a historic building on Main Street that housed Great Harvest Bread Company, Connecticut Valley Coin and some apartments. The initial call for the fire came in at 9:22 p.m., but the fire wasn’t under control until around 4 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 13. Firefighters from nine different towns responded to the scene and used more than 300,000 gallons of water to fight the fire. 

Four male Manchester High School students were suspended and one was arrested in November for posting inappropriate comments about female students on social media sites. “They were suspended for putting onto Facebook and Twitter, inappropriate or sexually explicit remarks about 17 girls,” said interim Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Kisiel.

Sam Chelanga, originally from Kenya, won the 77th annual running of the Manchester Road Race, with a time of 21:32.  Alice Kamunya was the first female finisher, with a time of 25:08.  Amby Burfoot, the honorary chairperson of the race, set a record by completing his 51st consecutive race.  Burfoot ran his first race in 1963, at the age of 17. 

The School Modernization and Reinvestment Team Revisited (SMARTR) presented its recommendations to improve the elementary schools during a joint meeting of the Board of Directors and Board of Education on Dec. 3.  The highlights of the SMARTR committee’s recommendations included creating a fifth- and sixth-grade academy at Bennet, renovating two existing schools to like-new conditions and closing two elementary schools.  The total cost of the recommended plan is around $100 million and would be slated for completion by 2020.

Just a few weeks before Christmas, John Lynn shot and killed the mother of his son and her two cousins before turning the gun on himself at the Dye House apartments, according to police. Lynn, 41, shot and killed Brittany Mills, 28, of Manchester, and her two cousins, Artara Benson, 46, of New Jersey, and Kamesha Mills, 23, of Manchester, on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Police say they were able to confront Lynn outside of the apartment complex before he could get to his car.  Lynn was carrying his 13-month-old child in one arm. A brief confrontation with police ensued, at which point Lynn placed the child on the ground and shot himself, police said. The child is currently living with relatives, according to Manchester police.


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