A Teen's Tragic Ride
The death of Hartford 13-year-old Abigail Morales, right, happened under suspicious circumstances and police are investigating reports that the motorcycle she was riding on as a passenger was chased t
August 19, 2004
By TINA A. BROWN And TRACY GORDON FOX, Courant Staff Writers
Thirteen-year-old Abigail Morales' death in a motorcycle accident would have been hard enough for her mother to comprehend if it had been a chance occurrence.
But police and the Hartford seventh-grader's family are doubly troubled by witness reports that the motorcycle Abigail was riding on had been chased through Hartford Tuesday night, then struck by the motorcycle driver's girlfriend in her SUV.
Abigail, called "Abby" by her family and friends, died instantly on a Route 2 exit ramp in East Hartford when driver Jose E. Marrero's red Yamaha was struck from behind by an SUV driven by his girlfriend, Raquel Hernandez, 29, police said. Marrero lives with Hernandez on Harbison Avenue in Hartford.
As police were continuing their investigation Wednesday, scores of Abby's family and friends assembled outside her home on Shultas Place, mourning her loss and regretting the incident that apparently preceded it.
According to Abby's 14-year-old cousin, a passenger on another motorcycle riding alongside Marrero's earlier Tuesday, Hernandez's white Mitsubishi Montero first came at them as they were leaving Hartford's Colt Park on Wethersfield Avenue.
"We were riding around here and all of a sudden she popped out of nowhere," said Morayma Rodriguez of Hartford. The teen said she remembers the roar of the SUV's engine as it wove in and out of traffic, barreling down on the motorcycles from behind.
Morayma said the motorcycle she was on - driven by a man she only identified as "Luis" - pulled over and got out of the way, but Hernandez's pursuit of Marrero and Abby continued. A little later, Morayma said, she and Luis got a cellphone call from Marrero saying he was going onto the highway to get away from the SUV.
Around the same time, Hartford police received a report of a car being broadsided by an SUV that was chasing a motorcycle, said Hartford Police Department spokeswoman Nancy Mulroy. That incident is now under investigation.
The final and fatal incident took place around 9 p.m. on the exit ramp where Route 2 north intersects I-84 east in East Hartford.
State police say they believe Hernandez's SUV hit the rear of Marrero's motorcycle, causing Marrero and Abigail to fly off. Neither was wearing a helmet.
An autopsy by the chief state medical examiner's office in Farmington showed that Abigail died of massive trauma, police said. Marrero, 34, is recovering from multiple abrasions at Hartford Hospital, police said.
No one had been charged in the accident, and police were asking anyone who might have witnessed it to call state police in Hartford at 860-534-1000, Ext. 5.
"At this point, we have detectives assigned to assist investigators to answer a lot of the questions," said Sgt. J. Paul Vance, a state police spokesman. "We can't speculate. The accident is unusual."
Abby's mother, Martha Mendez, was in shock Wednesday afternoon as mourners called on her. Many had painted "R.I.P. Abby" on their cars or trucks, or tended fresh flowers in a makeshift memorial. Teenagers lit candles.
"I told her to stay off the motorcycles," Mendez said. "She was a good girl and a lot of people loved her."
Abby, a student at South Middle School, was planning to move to Florida later this month where she felt she'd have more opportunities, her mother said.
"She wanted to do better in school and to get into fashion design," her older cousin said.
Mendez said she wants justice for her daughter