HARTFORD — A 13-year-old from the city died early Thursday after crashing the stolen car he was driving on Windsor Street, and police are investigating whether he was racing another stolen car.
A 15-year-old passenger in the car that crashed was injured and was driven to St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in a private vehicle, Deputy Chief Brian Foley said. Medics later transferred him to the burn unit at Bridgeport Hospital, where he remained "alert and conscious" Thursday, Foley said.
Police declined to release their names.
The fatal crash comes almost exactly a week after a similar accident in Meriden in which Deshawn Jones, 17, died after the stolen car he was riding in slammed into a tree.
This year has seen a spike in cars reported stolen from suburban towns turning up in Hartford nearly 50 percent over last year, according to police data. In many of the thefts, juvenile "opportunists" are taking cars left unlocked with the keys, or keyless fobs, inside, investigators have said.
A passing motorist saw the 2006 Subaru Impreza crash about 3 a.m. in the area of 555 Windsor St. and called police, Foley said.
The vehicle flipped off Windsor Street, crashing into a tree and utility pole before landing on its side in a dirt area about 30 feet off the road and catching fire. There were no visible skid marks on the two-lane road.
Its driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators said he was "burned beyond recognition," making identification difficult.
Police are investigating whether the Subaru and a Honda were racing on Windsor Street and whether contact between the cars caused the Subaru to veer off the road.
Middletown police said the Honda and the Subaru were stolen overnight from Carriage Crossing condominium complex. The Honda, a 2016 Civic, was reported stolen Wednesday at 11:55 p.m., and the Subaru was reported stolen at 6 a.m. Thursday, after the investigation into the crash began.
Police reported finding the Honda, which left St. Francis after dropping off the 15-year-old. When officers found the vehicle in Middletown about 3 p.m. Thursday, it was unoccupied.
Hartford police investigators said they believe the Honda was stolen after the thieves activated its keyless ignition — the car was parked close enough to the home that the signal from the fob inside the condo was able to reach it.
The south end of Windsor Street was closed throughout the morning commute, reopening hours later, after the wreckage from the crash was cleared.
Later Thursday, the shattered tree and dented utility pole hit by the Impreza remained at the scene. A singe mark from the vehicle fire had been burned into the pavement nearby.
Middletown police were continuing their investigation into the stolen cars through the day Thursday, a probe that runs concurrent with Hartford's investigation into the fatal crash, police said.
Courant staff writers Christine Dempsey, Dave Altimari and Jordan Otero contributed to this story.