Hartford man charged with felony assault in truck theft that injured Meriden resident

Hartford man charged with felony assault in truck theft that injured Meriden resident


MERIDEN — A Hartford man faces felony assault and robbery charges after police say he stole a truck parked at an East Main Street gas station and crashed on Route 15. The owner jumped into the bed of the truck to try to prevent the theft and was seriously injured in the crash.

Carlos Sampel, 46, of 103 Theodore Nap Lane, Hartford, was charged Wednesday with first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and third-degree larceny. He was arraigned Wednesday morning and held in lieu of $500,000 bond. The case was transferred to the part A docket at New Haven Superior Court, which handles more serious charges. Sampel is scheduled to appear there on Jan. 24.

Authorities say Sampel stole a Ford F350 Super Duty truck from Leo Valiquette, of Meriden, at about 9 a.m. on Dec. 10. Valiquette, who was at the Mobil gas station at 954 E. Main St., tried to stop Sampel by jumping into the truck bed. He attempted to get into the cab through a window as the truck turned onto the highway, a witness told police. Sampel drove the truck onto Route 15 north by the Exit 67 ramp, veered left, struck a guardrail and came to a stop in a gully.

Both Sampel and Valiquette suffered serious injuries and were taken to Hartford Hospital. When Meriden police arrived at the scene, they found Sampel in the driver’s seat handcuffed to the steering wheel, according to Sampel’s arrest warrant. A state trooper was first to respond to the crash and handcuffed Sampel to the steering wheel while attending to Valiquette.

The warrant notes that Valiquette suffered 11 broken ribs, two fractured vertebrae in his neck, one fractured vertebrae in his lower back, a fractured jaw as well as injuries to his spleen, liver and kidneys. Valiquette told police he was going to buy a Christmas tree and stopped to fill a low tire, the warrant said. He saw a car pull up next to his truck, but didn’t notice anything else until his truck began to move, at which point he jumped in the bed, the warrant continued. Valiquette told police he remembers seeing Sampel look back at him and hitting the guardrail.

Sampel told police he only remembers his girlfriend dropping him off in Meriden, according to the warrant. Police determined the value for the truck was between $7,000 and $8,738.

According to statements in court, Sampel has a criminal history dating back to 1992 with convictions for criminal possession of a weapon, first-degree escape, drug charges and violation of probation.

A GoFundMe page was established for Valiquette after the incident, and as of Wednesday had raised over $11,000.


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