Driver faces homicide charge

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Stephen Lombardo

WATERBURY — State police charged a Prospect man in connection with a head-on crash that killed a former Naugatuck resident.

Stephen Lombardo, 48, was charged with vehicular homicide on May 27 for a Sept. 23 crash that killed Susan Jean Mariano, 68, a former Naugatuck resident.

Mariano, who worked as a project manager at United Healthcare, initially survived the head-on collision on Route 68 in Prospect, but she died two days later.

Mariano was driving a 2017 Acura TLX just before 4 p.m. when her SUV collided head-on with Lombardo’s 2015 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck. The crash occurred between Dorothy and Laura avenues.

State police investigated the crash, inspecting both vehicles and seizing Lombardo’s cellphone.

As Lombardo lay on the shoulder of the road after the crash, he told police he looked down before he was about to turn into his driveway, then looked up and didn’t see what he hit.

He later told police he was in West Haven on a boat for a fishing trip the morning of the crash but did not have anything to drink while he was aboard. Police found no evidence that Lombardo was drinking at the time of the crash.

However, he told police, he began to sneeze when he stepped off the boat and broke out into another sneezing fit when he reached the intersection of routes 68 and 69 in Prospect. He remembered a “big flash,” he said, then couldn’t recall what occurred afterward.

Susan Jean Mariano

A witness riding his motorcycle behind the Acura told police that Lombardo’s truck crossed the double yellow line, and he did not try to correct its course.

Lombardo surrendered his cellphone to Trooper Ryan Burke, who discovered its contents had been erased and “wiped clean,” according to state police. Phone records turned over by Lombardo show the phone was not being used to talk, text or transfer data before the crash, according to state police.

Data from the vehicles also showed Lombardo did not brake before the crash and was not wearing his seat belt at the time. State police charged him with negligent homicide with a motor vehicle due to “inattention” while driving, and issued him infractions for not wearing his seat belt and failing to drive properly on a highway.

Lombardo, who is listed as owner of Express Pawn in West Haven, was released on a $10,000 non-surety bond. He’s due to appear in Waterbury Superior Court on July 5.