Woman, 78, dead after car hits tree in Prospect

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Accident under investigation, autopsy planned

PROSPECT — A Waterbury woman was killed when her car crashed into a tree off Summit Road on Monday morning.

Authorities said Mildred Smith, 78, of 130 Byam Road No. 3, was traveling east when her 1998 Chevrolet Malibu went off the right side of the road and struck a tree head-on at 9:45 a.m.

Firefighters responded and had to pop the car door to reach the driver, said Fire Lt. P.J. Conway, the department’s public information officer. The extrication took about a minute, and firefighters then performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Smith, he said.

Campion Ambulance transported Smith to Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, where she was pronounced dead, state police said.

State police are still investigating the cause of the accident.

An autopsy showed she died from injuries from the accident, a spokeswoman for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Wednesday.

Smith was heading home after she had breakfast at the Prospect Senior Center, where she was an active member, said her daughter, Faith Vicinanza, of Wolcott. Smith also was active at the Wolcott Senior Center and the Mill Plain Union Church in Waterbury.

Born in Waterbury, Smith worked at Airpax in Cheshire before retiring, her daughter said.

She loved doing arts and crafts, writing poetry and traveling, Vicinanza said. She said traveling was very much part of her mother’s life because her mother’s late husband, John Charles Smith Jr., served in the Navy for 23 years.

If any children ever messed with her kids, her mother would be outside with a broom, she said.

“She was very protective and very territorial about her children,” Vicinanza said.

Her mother liked to get out and take bus trips or attend concerts, she said.

“She was not somebody to sit around,” Vicinanza said.

Vicinanza will carry two significant memories of her mother.

Her mother gave her a love of poetry, said Vicinanza, who is an accomplished poet with a number of books published. She said her mother was always writing poems for marriages, birthdays and other occasions.

Her mother also supported her in going to college, she said. Her father was a traditional man who wouldn’t have sent her, but her mother took a stand and supported her, she said.

Lucy Smegielski, Prospect Senior Center director, said Smith always came to the monthly breakfasts, and was involved in the Red Hat Society and attended holiday parties. She was a member for at least 10 years, she said.

“She was a friendly person,” Smegielski said. “She was very friendly with everybody.”

Vincent Semprini, a Waterbury resident who said they were companions, said he had known Smith since 2001. They would have dinner, and she loved to dance, he said.

“She’s very good-hearted,” Semprini said. “She’s very kind-hearted. I loved her very much. She loved me, I think.”

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Mill Plain Union Church, 242 Southmayd Road, Waterbury, followed by a reception in the hall.