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Cops: Cars Crash After Man Dumps Pool Water on Frozen Rd

Reckless Endangerment charges for swimming pool company employee after multiple car accidents occurred on ice from drained pool water along Flax Hill Thursday morning.

Flax Hill, the scene of multiple car accidents after pool water was drained onto the roadway. Photo courtesy Norwalk Police
Flax Hill, the scene of multiple car accidents after pool water was drained onto the roadway. Photo courtesy Norwalk Police
A car driven by a 69-year-old woman driving downhill Thursday morning spun out of control, turned 180 degrees, crossed the double yellow line and finally struck a guard rail on the other side of the road -- one of three accidents on the same stretch that morning.

The reason, according to Norwalk police: A worker from Swimm Pool & Patio of 512 Post Rd., Darien had drained an in-ground swimming pool, dispensing the water onto Flax Hill Road, where it flowed downhill at an S-curve, causing a vast sheet of ice.

Norwalk police say they arrested the employee. Also, the city Department of Public Works put down sand and took other safety measures -- but not before two more drivers found their vehicles going out of control and crashing on the street.

Police gave this account (involving an accusation not proven in court) of the matter:

The water was drained from an in-ground at about 9 a.m., forming an ice sheet about a tenth of a mile long and making the condition of the road so difficult that even responding officers initially had difficulty getting close to the accident scene.
 
At 9:17 a.m. Norwalk police were first called to Flax Hill Road near the intersection of Keeler Ave. for a one-car motor vehicle accident and icy roadway conditions. Norwalk dispatchers notified the city DPW of the hazard and requested a response with sand and salt.

On arrival, officers found a 2008 Subaru Legacy that had been westbound (downhill) on Flax Hill Road by the 69-year-old Norwalk woman.
 
A short while later, a 2005 Jeep Liberty also being driven downhill by a Norwalk woman, spun out when braking for slower cars ahead. The Jeep was struck by a trailing 2008 Subaru Forester, causing the Jeep Liberty to spin yet again.

The Forester was being driven a Larchmont, NY man who stated that he attempted to brake, but was unable to avoid the spinning Jeep resulting in the second collision but no injuries. 
 
The third accident involved a 2012 Nissan Rogue being driven downhill that struck the now stationary 2005 Jeep Liberty. The Rogue then collided with the responding DPW plow truck before striking the truck’s snowplow blade and coming to rest.

The 2014 Mack Truck was traveling uphill at the time of this collision applying salt to the roadway. The driver of the Nissan, a 54-year-old Norwalk woman, was taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment of her injuries. She was released later in the day.

Investigating officers determined that the severe icy conditions were caused by an employee of Swimm Pool and Patio, who had been sent to a nearby home to perform a winter pool service.

The employee had drained water from the in-ground pool at 1 Westview Ln. with a hose, and ran that hose to the edge of Flax Hill Avenue, discharging the water into the roadway.

Patch spoke to DPW employee Eric Montgomery around 11:15 a.m. at the scene of the incident on Flax Hill. "We put down treated salt, which is green," said Montgomery, who was waiting in his truck for the sand truck. "This treated salt is safe but it will refreeze after a while, so we need to put sand on top of it." 

Montgomery shook his head as drivers took the curve where the accidents had taken place at speeds of 40 mph despite the 25 mph posted speed limit. 

Officers at the scene estimated that the pool water traveled about a tenth of a mile down Flax Hill Road, covering the roadway in ice, before pooling at low point in the roadway near the intersection of Primrose Court (Google Maps website estimates that trip was two tenths of a mile long).

Flax Hill Road is a well-traveled street in Norwalk south of (and largely parallel) to Route 1. George Washington's troops trod along it during the American Revolution. The road leads to Old Kings Highway North in Darien.
 
Officers determined that the employee’s actions were responsible for the three accidents and contacted the pool company, summoning the employee back to the scene.

When the employee returned to the scene, he admitted to draining the pool water into the roadway, which caused the extreme ice buildup on the road surface.
 
Police arrested the employee, Alfredo Bahena-Benitez (AKA Freddy), 34, of 198 East Ave, Norwalk. Bahena-Benitez was charged with one count of second-degree reckless endangerment and initially held in lieu of $1,000 bond. If he met the bond, he was scheduled to appear Jan. 21 in state Superior Court in Norwalk. 
 
Editor's note: This story originally was published by Norwalk Patch in somewhat different form.

Editor's note, 9:46 a.m.: The original headline for this article, at 9:36 a.m. included the words "Darien Pool Worker" which may be misleading, since there's a "Darien Pool Company" in town. The man was employed by another company.


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