The Incredible Mistake a Service Pro Made

Scott Webb Headshot
photo of iced-over road

So you’re draining a pool in a northern, frost-bound state in January — because, you know, that’s high season for pool draining in the North — and as usual, there’s the problem of what to do with all that water.

You ponder for a moment, surveying the scene. “Ah,” you say to yourself, “I’ll just run it down that sloping road behind the house — that road with the big S-turn on a significant downgrade. Sure, it’s freezing cold outside, but I’ll bet that water runs off and soaks in somewhere before it becomes a hazard.”

Later, at the Norwalk, Conn., police station, as the iron bars close behind you, reflection takes you back to that moment, and you think, “That may not have been the best pool drain plan.”

For Alfredo Bahena-Benitez, an employee at Swimm (two m’s intended) Pool and Patio in Darien, Conn., the day started out as a routine service appointment. It ended in handcuffs and cars piled into the ditch at the bottom of Benitez’ unwitting creation — a sudden, surprising commuter bobsled run.

The drain part actually went pretty well. Benitez ran a hose out to the street, pumped the water out of the pool and headed back to HQ without a thought of what was transpiring back on Flax Hill road — that steep road with the S-curve — where officers would soon be responding to calls from dazed and angry motorists.

According to the police report, “the ice was so vast that even responding officers initially had difficulty getting close to the accident scene.”

Slipping and sliding themselves, the officers got to the bottom of the hill and found a 69-year-old woman and her 2008 Subaru Legacy deposited on the guardrail, facing uphill. 

Some cars following the Subaru were able to slow down on the slickened hill, but a 2005 Jeep Liberty was not, and it spun out on the frictionless curve and was struck by a Forester flying by and a Nissan Rogue. The Rogue then caromed into a street department truck, which had responded quickly to the Flax Hill emergency and was gallantly attempting to apply salt to the roadway. 

The driver of the Nissan, a 54-year-old Norwalk woman, was taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment of her injuries. She was released later in the day. Nobody else was seriously hurt.

Solving the crime was fairly straightforward, as police were able to simply follow the broad trail of ice back to its source. They contacted the pool company, and summoned Benitez back to the scene. 

One can only imagine how that part went:

“Hey… Alfredo… Cop’s on the phone.”

“Huh?” And then that sinking suspicion. Uh-oh… I wonder if that pool water…

According to police, “When the employee returned to the scene, he admitted to draining the pool water into the roadway, which caused the extreme ice buildup on the road surface. Officers promptly arrested the 34-year-old employee Alfredo Bahena-Benitez who was transported to police headquarters.”

Benitez was charged with one count of reckless endangerment in the 2nd degree. He was released on $1,000 bail. As of now, Benitez’ is scheduled to stand trial at the end of the month.  

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