MIDDLETOWN - A driver intentionally crashed a car filled with gasoline containers into a Connecticut hospital emergency room Thursday and set himself on fire, authorities said.
The driver, a local man in his 20s known to police, was the only person injured in the crash at Middlesex Hospital in Middletown. He was flown about 40 miles (64 km) to Bridgeport Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition in the burn unit.
“The bomb squads were there. But that was out of an abundance of caution, not because we had any information that anything was wired or connected,” said Middletown Mayor Dan Drew. “In a situation like this, it's incumbent on us to make sure every contingency is explored.”
Drew said authorities believe it was an isolated incident. When asked if terrorism was a possibility, Police Chief William McKenna would only say that the man's motives are under investigation.
About 30 patients and 20 staff members were evacuated from the emergency department after the crash, which occurred at the walk-in entrance to the department at about 10 a.m.
The front of the car became engulfed in flames and the driver was on fire when he exited the vehicle, police said. Fire, police and bomb crews quickly responded to the scene and firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze.
Authorities evacuated homes in the neighborhood where the driver lives while searching his residence, but had no immediate indication there was a bomb in either location.
Police cordoned off the area around the emergency department, but Drew said people were free to walk outside.
McKenna said authorities likely will be working at the crime scene through the day Thursday and people with appointments at the hospital should call to reschedule.
“This situation, as tragic as it is, as difficult as it is for our community to contend with, had very limited overall damage, in part because of the quick response of hospital staff, police officers and firefighters,” Drew said.