A 4-year-old Hamden boy who was sitting in the front seat of a stolen car when it crashed on Route 1 in Branford Sunday has died, according to state police.
Police identified the child as Jairus Benjamin and said he was sitting on someone’s lap and not in a car seat.
"Jairus was joyful, was goofy," Briana Simuel, the boy's mother, told NBC Connecticut. "My baby always loved to play. He loved dinosaurs."
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Police said 18-year-old Tyler Carey, of East Haven, was behind the wheel and driving erratically when East Haven police officers tried to stop a white Toyota Corolla, which did not have taillights on, around 6:30 p.m. The vehicle was reported stolen from New Haven,
Six people were in car, including two Carey, 24-year-old Brandon Little of New Haven, and four children under 14 years old, including Jairus, police said.
Carey fled and got onto I-95 North and East Haven police called off the chase before exit 55, police said.
Around two miles after police called off the chase, the Toyota hit a 2004 Honda Element head-on around, according to police.
"East Haven chased the vehicle for a period of time. It was a couple minutes when they decided that it was too dangerous of a situation," Trooper Kelly Grant, of Connecticut State Police, said. "They called the pursuit off and shortly thereafter, the vehicle crashed."
Moments later, surveillance video at a Mobil gas station showed a man carrying a young boy to the parking lot.
Six minutes later, an ambulance transported him to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he later died.
"They don't know what they took from me," Simuel said. "My son is priceless."
Benjamin was related to one of the five other people who were in the car, according to police.
Carey and two other passengers fled the scene before police arrived, leaving behind the 4-year-old, a 15-year-old boy and Little, according to police.
Carey ran into the woods and a police dog found him, according to police.
Carey has been charged with reckless driving, engaging in a pursuit, misuse of plates, second-degree larceny, first-degree reckless endangerment, risk of injury to a minor, failure to have headlights illuminated and driving in an improper lane.
He was held on a $500,000 bond and police said more charges are likely because of Jairus’ death.
Police said there were outstanding warrants for Little out of New Haven and West Haven and he was arrested on those charges and held.
The one person who was in the Honda Element was not hurt, according to state police.
The off-ramp was closed for several hours but has since reopened.