- The Washington Times - Friday, June 6, 2008

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) | A 78-year-old man is tossed like a rag doll by a hit-and-run driver and lies motionless on a busy city street as car after car goes by.

Pedestrians gawk but do nothing. One driver stops briefly but then pulls back into traffic. A man on a scooter slowly circles the victim before zipping away.

The chilling scene - captured on video by a streetlight surveillance camera - has touched off a round of soul-searching in Hartford, with the capital city’s biggest newspaper blaring “SO INHUMANE” on the front page and the police chief lamenting: “We no longer have a moral compass.”

“We have no regard for each other,” said Chief Daryl Roberts, who released the video this week in hopes of making an arrest in the daylight accident June 6 that left Angel Arce Torres in critical condition.

The hit-and-run took place about 5:45 p.m. in a working-class neighborhood close to downtown in this city of 125,000.

In the video, Mr. Torres walks in the two-way street just blocks from the state Capitol after buying milk at a grocery. A tan Toyota and a dark Honda that is apparently chasing it cross the center line, and Mr. Torres is struck by the Honda. Both cars then dart down a side street.

Video:Hit-and-run victim’s son begs public for help

Several cars pass Mr. Torres as a few people stare from the sidewalk. Some approach Mr. Torres, but most stay put until a police cruiser responding to an unrelated call arrives on the scene after about a minute and a half.

The police chief told the Hartford Courant that he was unsure whether anyone called 911.

“Like a dog, they left him there,” said a disgusted Jose Cordero, 37, who was with friends Thursday not far from where Mr. Torres was struck.

Robert Luna, who works at a store nearby, said: “Nobody did nothing.”

One witness, Bryant Hayre, told the Courant he didn’t feel comfortable helping Mr. Torres, who he said was bleeding and conscious.

The accident - and bystanders’ callousness - dominated morning radio talk shows.

“It was one of the most despicable things I’ve seen by one human being to another,” the Rev. Henry Brown, a community activist, said in an interview. “I don’t understand the mind-set anymore. It’s kind of mind-boggling. We’re supposed to help each other. You see somebody fall, you want to offer a helping hand.”

The victim’s son, Angel Arce, begged the public for help in finding the driver. “My father is fighting for his life,” he said.

The hit-and-run is the second violent crime to shock Hartford this week. On Monday, former Deputy Mayor Nicholas Carbone, 71, was beaten and robbed while walking to breakfast. He remains hospitalized and faces brain surgery.

“There was a time they would have helped that man across the street. Now they mug and assault him,” the police chief said. “Anything goes.”

Council member Matthew Ritter said police can do only so much.

“The citizens are the city,” he said. “Everybody has a part to play. Call 911 and reach out.”

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