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January 5, 2023

Rep. Quentin Williams presumed victim of wrong-way driver

PHOTO | CONTRIBUTED Rep. Quentin "Q" Williams

Rep. Quentin Williams, D-Middletown, was one of the two drivers killed in a fiery two-car crash at 12:48 a.m. Thursday on Route 9 in Cromwell, legislators said.

Identification of the victims was pending autopsies, but the car struck by a wrong-way driver near the Cromwell-Middletown line belonged to Williams, the sources said. On that basis, his wife Carrissa was notified at 5 a.m. of the accident.

House Democratic leaders said at 10:15 a.m. the family was confirming his death.

Williams, 39, had attended the governor’s inaugural ball in Hartford and was returning home, the sources said.

Legislative business was cancelled Thursday, including the organizational meeting of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, the panel that House Speaker Matt Ritter, D-Hartford, named him to co-chair.

Gov. Ned Lamont directed that state flags be flown at half staff in Williams’ honor.

“This is devastating news, and I am incredibly saddened by this tragedy,” Lamont said.

State police said Williams’ car was traveling in the left lane on the southbound side of Route 9 near exit 18 when a vehicle going north struck Williams’ car head on. Williams’ car was fully engulfed in flames.

The other car was found in the grass center median. Both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene.

Williams was a popular figure among his colleagues who was known at the Capitol simply as “Q.” His name was Quentin Phipps when elected in 2018, but he took on his maternal surname of Williams in 2022 to honor his mother, Queen.

“I am in shock,” Ritter said. “Q was my dear friend and I am scarred by his sudden loss. We will have time to reflect on Q as a legislator in the weeks to come, but right now I deeply mourn my friend and send all of my love to Carrissa, Queen and Q’s family. We will all miss Q.”

“Rep. Williams was an amazing human being. His infectious smile could instantly make a difficult day better,” said House Majority Leader Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford. “He was an amazing husband, friend and colleague. He loved community and serving others. Truly – a friend to all who knew him. This is a terrible tragedy and a great loss to our state. My heart goes out to his wife, family, and all who loved Q. We will miss him.”

Sen. Matt Lesser, D-Middletown, said Wiliams was “a trailblazer, the first Black state representatives ever elected in Middletown.” Lesser held the same House seat before his election to the Senate.

Williams was co-chair of the Aging Committee in the 2021-22 session and given the higher-profile post on Labor for the current session.

“Q showed us his leadership skills this past session as House chair of Housing,” Ritter said at the time. “I asked him to step up to this new challenge because I know he is committed to policies that help working families thrive in our state.”

Statements of tribute and grief came from all corners of public life as word of his death spread. Many of the tributes came people who were with him at the inaugural ball.

“Today the people of Connecticut lost an advocate. Q’s unrelenting dedication to create a more equitable Connecticut for all set the standard for all public officials,” said Secretary of the State Stephanie Thomas, who served with him in the House. “I am lucky to have been able to call Q a friend. I will miss his passion and energy and I grieve with his family and all who knew him.”

“Just last night, we talked with Q at the inaugural ball and he was true to form – brimming with positive energy and a big smile that lit up the room,” Ed Hawthorne and Shellye Davis, the leaders of the Connecticut AFL-CIO said in a joint statement. “Q was not only an incredible advocate for his constituents in Middletown, but for all working people across Connecticut. We were very much looking forward to working with him as the new House Chair of the Labor & Public Employees Committee.”

Williams was a graduate of Middletown public schools and had a business degree from Bryant University and master’s of public administration from Villanova. He was pursuing studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.

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