Vigil for Meriden hit-and-run victim underscores driver still at large

Vigil for Meriden hit-and-run victim underscores driver still at large

MERIDEN — April Cicarella never had a chance to know Harold Bell. In her one encounter with him, Bell was lying dead on Old Colony Road, the victim of a hit-and-run, a few minutes after it happened, she said.

That sight has haunted her.

"I thought about him all night that night and all the next day," Cicarella, a Meriden resident, said on Tuesday. "I just wanted to know his name at first. The idea that nobody would remember him was scary to me."

That's why Cicarella organized a candlelight vigil in honor of Bell, a 56-year-old whose death on Nov. 5 remains under investigation by city police. Attended by about 25 people Tuesday night, including Mayor Kevin Scarpati, the event was brief and poignant, with friends discussing the man they called Cowboy or Tex — he favored a big cowboy hat — and some expressing sadness that the person who drove the vehicle that killed Bell hasn't yet come forward.

Scarpati said he had spoken with Police Chief Roberto Rosado on Tuesday and been assured that the investigation of Bell's death was progressing. Meriden police spokesmen were off duty on Wednesday and could not comment on the investigation.

A black Honda Accord hit Bell as he crossed the road near 817 Old Colony Road at about 2:30 p.m. that day. Officers found an elderly man lying in the roadway. Surveillance video taken from a nearby business showed the Accord hitting Bell before speeding south down Old Colony Road and turning east on Gypsy Lane, police have said.

His cause of death was blunt force trauma and the manner of death was an accident, according to the state medical examiner's office. 

Scarpati told other vigil attendees that the case "is definitely not on the back burner."

Bell was something of a neighborhood character, liked by most South Meridenites who knew him. He did odd jobs and was very handy with machines. He really enjoyed helping people and could be counted on to do things for others, attendees said.

Bell lived in an apartment above JC's Place, a bar and restaurant, but liked to sleep in Walnut Grove Cemetery, which is across the street from the bar, to escape the noise. 

"He loved it there. It was peaceful for him," said his friend, 51-year-old Brian Dirisi of Wallingford. "He liked to spend time in nature."

Bell walked with a cane and would often walk on Old Colony Road. He especially prized the cowboy hat, once declaring that he wouldn't part with it for millions of dollars. He was not a man who cared much about material things, Dirisi said.

Bell's friends are working with Walnut Grove to see whether the Meriden Cemetery Association, which maintains the cemetery, would donate a plot for Bell, Dirisi said.

But most of all, Bell's friends want the driver of the Accord to step forward. The vehicle should have a missing driver’s side mirror and a damaged windshield, police have said. 

Anyone with information should call the Meriden Police Department at 203-630-6201.

"I think it is a shame that the person who was driving hasn't come forward," Dirisi said, "because there's no escaping what he's done."
Twitter: @JrSambides

"I just wanted to know his name at first. The idea that nobody would remember him was scary to me."

-April Cicarella
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