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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Pedestrian Killed on Post Road East

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Billy Ford: longtime Westporter.  Contributed photo
UPDATE A pedestrian was struck and killed by a car late today on Westport’s Post Road East, police said.

Police identified the victim as William C. Ford, 49, of 1655 Post Road East. A former custodian at Staples High School, he was employed at Trader Joe’s in Westport. (See obituary)

The accident in the vicinity of 1655 Post Road East forced the closure of the busy roadway for a period after the accident which occurred about 6 p.m.

Ford apparently was crossing at a crosswalk when he was struck by an eastbound car, police said. Friends said he did not drive and may have just gotten off a bus from work.

Witnesses said he was thrown from the car’s windshield and landed a short distance away.

He was pronounced dead at Norwalk Hospital from injuries received in the crash, said Lt. David Kassay.

The driver of the vehicle, identified by police as Michael Parchment, 51, of Naugatuck, Conn., was questioned by police at the scene.

There was no word whether any charges would be filed.

Police opened one lane of westbound traffic at about 6:30 p.m. and the rest of the roadway about an hour later.

It was the first fatality on a Westport roadway in more than a year.

A 57-year-old Redding woman was killed in November 2007 in a two-car crash on Weston Road. (See WestportNow Nov.13, 2007)

Ford, a 1979 Staples High School graduate—as was his twin sister, Maureen—worked as a custodian at Staples for 25 years until his retirement in 2006.

At a ceremony honoring retirees that year, Holly Hageman, assistant superintendent for personnel, noted that Ford has been a “respected, outstanding and valued staff member ... Among many honors, Bill was recognized many years for perfect attendance.”

Ford, himself, wrote in the program that his “proudest accomplishment was being hired as the first SHS special education graduate ever and remaining for 25 years until retirement. “

He added: “My teacher, Robert May, was influential in preparing me for the job, both as a good worker and a union member. He mentored me for 15 years.”

Ford recalled that Staples Principal George Cohen hired him 1980 and that he worked through both additions and construction at the school—“from a California ‘open-buildings’ campus to the proud structure it is today. What a change!”

“I was infamous among my co-workers for the amount of food it took to keep my energy level up,” he wrote.

“Some pleasant ‘food memories’ were the big platters of leftovers from special events and football games and many shared dinners with my night shift co-workers.

“Last, but not least, were the special birthday cakes I received each year from the secretaries, Sandy Attwood, Nancy Foote, Sandy Forhand, and the Guidance Department.

“I am most grateful to my supervisors and co-workers over the years including Craig Schmarr, Gary Martin, Dilbert Lane, and Horace Lewis. They patiently trained and guided me throughout these past 25 years.”

Posted 12/23/08 at 11:42 PM


Comment Policy

Bill Ford was a remarkable human being.  Thank you Dan for your kind words.  His Sister, Maureen

Posted by Maureen Bates on December 24, 2008 at 03:44 PM | #

Billy was the most genuinely nice, funny and kind man I knew. He always went out of his way for other people and I will always remember him for that. He is a role model for many. His neice, Melissa

Posted by Melissa Ford on December 24, 2008 at 04:26 PM | #

This is so sad. My heart goes out to Mr. Ford’s family and friends and also to Michael Parchment, the driver of the car that hit him. Long ago I was in a similar accident, and I know how hard it is to deal with it.

My thoughts are with you all.

Posted by Carol Cardozo on December 24, 2008 at 04:33 PM | #

Billy was a student in my class my first year as a teacher at Staples.  As a student, he was hard working, funny, eager and always enthusiastic.  He began working as a custodian at Staples,as a part of his work study program, and continued after graduation.  As a member of the Staples staff, he was always ready to help and equally ready with a quick quip.  He was proud of his independence and enjoyed life to the fullest.  After we both left Staples I lost touch with him and am so sorry to hear of the tragedy.

My sympathies to Pinky and Jim and the rest of the family.  Billy was truly a unique individual who will be sorely missed.

Posted by Bobbi Liepolt on December 24, 2008 at 05:14 PM | #

I’m so sorry to hear about Billy, my heart is just broken.  Both my husband Dave and I worked at Staples with him and I often gave him a ride home since we both left work at the same time.  He had such a wonderful outlook on life and I know that he is with God in Heaven.

Posted by Maureen Seirup on December 24, 2008 at 05:31 PM | #

I will miss the fun of trading puns with Billy and his eternal good humor. He was a solid, kind and happy person and I am grateful to have been part of his family.

It is a shock that he was taken so suddenly, but he leaves many warm memories - it makes me smile just thinking of some of his funny observations and plays on words.

May your soul rest in peace and your spirit soar in the heavens, dear, sweet Billy… Love, Mary Kujan Ford

Posted by mary kujan ford on December 24, 2008 at 05:42 PM | #

My wife and I will miss Billy for his friendship and as a great Westport neighbor. He always had a smile and big hello. I will never forget how proud we all were at the BOE ceremony when he was awarded a perfect attendance certificate. God bless and rest in peace friend.
Toni and Stephen Rubin

Posted by Stephen Rubin on December 24, 2008 at 09:28 PM | #

Billy was a wonderful neighbor. My prayers go out to all his family and his parents.  Billy was a very kind man, always eager to be helpful to everyone. His parents should be very proud of the special man that he was. He was a fabulous role model for the disabled. He always did his best. We will miss him dearly.  I know he will be one of God’s sweet angels!!!

Posted by Donna Blosser on December 24, 2008 at 09:55 PM | #

Billy was a wonderful and very special person. Our families grew up together from early childhood at St. Lukes School. I would always seek him out at Trader Joes to say Hi and he was always suprised to see me. My Mom saw him just yesterday. My heart goes out to his family especially Pinky. He is with the angels now and in my prayers. God bless you Billy

Posted by Stephen Alward on December 24, 2008 at 11:09 PM | #

Bill a wonderful friend and I shall miss him dearly.  He taught me wonderful lessons on how to live life and I am a better man for having know Bill.

Posted by thomas orofino on December 25, 2008 at 01:07 PM | #

Billy is now our Christmas angel - he was always our family angel. Billy taught us all lessons of patience and humility - we continue to learn. His sudden departure feels so unfair but God is sharing this special holiday with Billy now. In Bill’s honor we will try to eat his favorite treats today and remember him with stories. Until I had my daughter, one of my personal accomplishments that I still rank as tops was teaching Billy to read when we lived in Venezuela. He learned to love books and as children we were able to learn from each other so easily. I have a heavy heart today and will miss him forever. I hope to see Bill again in heaven. I too am a better person for having had Billy as a brother.  Maryellen - aka Melon

Posted by Maryellen Ford-Elliott on December 25, 2008 at 06:59 PM | #

I worked with Billy at Staples High School and gave him lifts home whenever I saw him after work. He was a great guy and always enjoyed talking with him in our years together. My heart goes out to his family.

JIm Honeycutt
Staples High School

Posted by Jim Honeycutt on December 26, 2008 at 01:46 PM | #

Here is a link to a slideshow video of Billy - a celebratiion of his life -

Posted by Melissa Ford on December 30, 2008 at 03:36 PM | #

Thanks for making and sharing that beautiful video!!

Posted by Donna Blosser on December 30, 2008 at 05:23 PM | #

Well Melissa thank you so much for putting together and sharing Billy’s slideshow. I’ve watched it more than a few times and just can’t get over what has happened. Billy was such a joy to work with at Trader Joe’s. Always! Always happy, kind, generous, loving, caring and willing to lend a helping hand. What a gentleman he was when I was pregnant and working there. I worked with him almost everyday of my pregnancy and he sure did make it easy on me. Always with a great big smile too. My heart warms just thinking of him and always it will. Knowing Billy has made me a better person. I miss him and his sweetness. My heart goes out to the entire Ford family. Thank you so very much for allowing us (coworkers) to be at the ceremony. It was so beautiful and touching.

Posted by lorie strazza on January 01, 2009 at 04:19 AM | #

Justice For All

It was difficult to read the report provided by the Westport Police to my parents about their son, my brother, William C. Ford’s accidental pedestrian death two days before Christmas.  The investigation of the accident seemed heavily focused on contributory negligence and it was hard to comprehend how no traffic violations were cited and no charges or ticket issued to the driver who hit and killed my brother while he was in a marked crosswalk on his way home from work.

My brother was a law-abiding, tax-paying American citizen.  He exercised his rights and voted for public servants at election time.  It seems a betrayal of justice that the police report indicated the driver of the vehicle who hit Billy was driving in excess of the speed limit; however, he was not administered a breathalyzer test or Urine Analysis for other illegal substances.  There was no mention made of whether or not the driver was required to wear glasses, and if so, whether or not he was wearing them when he didn’t see my brother in the crosswalk. 

The laws to protect pedestrians seem to not have been applied with equal justice for Billy. Chapter 249 of the Connecticut General Statutes clearly states that operators of motor vehicles are required to exercise due care to avoid pedestrians, and a violation of this is an infraction. The police report indicated that another driver did see my brother and stopped before the crosswalk, watching as my brother stepped off the curb, walked across the first of four lanes towards his home, and was then struck in the next lane by an oncoming vehicle whose driver never even braked. 

The detective interviewed my brother’s boss and learned that my brother had great awareness of traffic:  during the past three years he was an employee at Trader Joe’s, and was observed by his supervisor on many occasions to be careful about traffic and the movement of cars while he retrieved grocery carts daily without incident.  The detective also interviewed Billy’s coach from The Kennedy Center who taught my brother how to use the public transit system in Westport to get to/from his job safely and on time, when he was hired by Trader Joe’s.  However, a witness to the accident who called the police was, for some reason, not interviewed.

The detectives were thorough in other aspects of the case.  The driver who hit my brother had his car checked by the Westport Police for any equipment failures.  The detectives did a review of the condition of the road where Billy was hit, along with the environment, to identify any safety hazards.  But the obvious missing piece of the investigation is that the driver seems to have not been given the same scrutiny as my brother’s abilities, the driver’s car, and the road conditions.  Perhaps there are missing pages in the report to this effect.

It makes me wonder if all adults with disabilities are seen by the justice system through the lens of their disabilities.  Was Billy, the victim, considered partially liable for his own death because he had a disability? Why was the person who caused the accident not held responsible under the Connecticut General Statutes?  Why does it seem the driver was not even fully investigated?  Is the law being upheld equally for all citizens?

My brother’s disability had nothing to do with his being hit in a crosswalk by a driver travelling in excess of the speed limit.  I have worked with individuals with disabilities for most of my career and would argue that training is needed is in the justice system so that all citizens, disabled or not, are given justice without bias by the Prosecutor, Detectives, and Police.  I am grateful for the care the police provided when they arrived at the scene of the accident.  I just wish the people protecting us could have met my brother and known his abilities.  Then they would better understand that he did not cause, nor contribute to, his own death.

Maureen Ford Bates, Kaneohe, HI

Posted by Maureen Bates on April 10, 2009 at 06:18 AM | #

October 10th is Bill’s Birthdate and he loved celebrating with friends and family.  If you are so inclined his favorite was Strawberry Cheesecake.  He would have been 50 years old this coming Saturday.
Maureen his sister

Posted by Maureen Bates on October 03, 2009 at 08:55 PM | #

Some of Bill’s favorite Christmas carols include:
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero Ano y Felicidad.

Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Feliz Navidad
Prospero Ano y Felicidad.

I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
With lots of presents to make you happy
I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas
From the bottom of my heart.

The Christmas Song
Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.
Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.
They know that Santa’s on his way;
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother’s child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.
And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you!

This next song may sound wrong since Bill died last year after being hit by a car, but he really did love this song and we will be singing it tomorrow to remember his joy.  We will also be eating hot dogs with Trader Joe’s mustard and drinking beer to remind ourselves of his mission, LOVE one another.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer
walkin’ home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa.
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

She’d been drinkin’ too much egg nog.
And we’d begged her not to go.
But she’d forgot her medication,
and she staggered out the door into the snow.

When we found her Christmas mornin,’
at the scene of the attack.
She had hoof prints on her forehead,
And incriminatin’ Claus marks on her back.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walkin’ home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Now were all so proud of Grandpa.
He’s been takin’ this so well.
See him in there watchin’ football,
drinkin’ beer and playin’ cards with cousin Belle.

It’s not Christmas without Grandma.
All the family dressed in black.
And we just can’t help but wonder:
Should we open up her gifts or send them back?
(Send them back)

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walkin’ home from our house Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
But as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Now the goose is on the table.
And the pudding made of fig.
And a blue and silver candle,
that would just have matched the hair in Grandma’s wig.

I’ve warned all my friends and neighbors.
“Better watch out for yourselves.”
They should never give a license,
to a man who drives a sleigh and plays with elves.

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walkin’ home from our house, Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and Grandpa, we believe.
(Sing it Grandpa)

Grandma got run over by a reindeer,
walkin’ home from our house, Christmas eve.
You can say there’s no such thing as Santa,
but as for me and Grandpa, we believe.

Posted by Maureen Bates on December 23, 2009 at 08:12 AM | #

I thought of Bill Ford yesterday because the morning mass at St Luke was offered for the intention of his soul. 
By all accounts he was a wonderful, much loved person. To quote the Irish: May the Lord keep him in the palm of His hand and never close His fist too tight.

Posted by Robert E. Grant on December 24, 2009 at 04:45 AM | #

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