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Connecticut Lawmaker Dies in Collision With Wrong-Way Driver

By Kelley Griffin  |  January 16, 2023

Connecticut Rep. Quentin Williams, a man known for his energy, exuberance and infectious optimism, died in a head-on collision on his way home from the governor’s inaugural ball earlier this month.

Williams (D), 39, had just been sworn in for his third term representing Middletown, the community where he grew up. His car burst into flames after it was struck by a vehicle going the wrong way in his lane just before 1 a.m. on Jan. 5, according to state police. The driver of the other car also died.

“This is devastating news,” said Gov. Ned Lamont, who ordered the state flag lowered to half-staff in Williams’ honor. “Quentin had an infectiously optimistic personality, and he absolutely loved having the opportunity to represent his lifelong home of Middletown at the state Capitol. Public service was his passion, and he was always advocating on behalf of the people of his hometown.” 

Williams was known simply as “Q.” He had changed his last name from Phipps to Williams, his maternal surname, to honor his mother, Queen, who raised him as a single mother in public housing in Middletown. He was the first African American to represent Middletown in the General Assembly, according to a biography on his legislative webpage. 

Williams earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Bryant University and had a Master of Public Administration from Villanova University. He was pursuing studies at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government at the time of his death.

“Q had a great combination of personal skills, political skills and policy acumen. He was driven by policies. But he knew that to get those policies across the finish line he had to work with people—on all sides of an issue,” House Speaker Matt Ritter (D) told NCSL. “Q was just beginning his journey as a leader, and I know that there were great things ahead of him. Now it’s our responsibility to build on what Q started.”

Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D) and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D), who also serves on NCSL’s Executive Committee, said their colleague was smart, talented and “had a laugh that would make everyone laugh with him. He was always energetic, exuberant and felt blessed to be a public servant. We have lost a valued and dedicated member of the legislative community.”

Williams was newly appointed as co-chair of the House Labor and Public Employees Committee, and a colleague said he had begun work the day he was sworn in before the Jan. 4 inaugural ball. He was known in the community for his work on education and justice. 

“Let his memory fill us with the passion to pursue justice,” the Rev. AJ Johnson, deputy chaplain for the General Assembly, said at a memorial, according to the Stamford Advocate. “Let his legacy inspire us to create a more equitable future and let his work carry on through our hands.”

The Advocate reported that the newly elected leader of the Black and Puerto Rican Caucus, Sen. Patricia Billie Miller (D), said lawmakers have already begun discussing how to incorporate Williams’ legacy into legislation this session.

Kelley Griffin is a senior editor at NCSL.

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