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2014 In Review: Ridgefield Mourns Toddler And Teen, Opens New Library

Ridgefield toddler Benjamin Seitz died in July when his father left him in a hot car.
Ridgefield toddler Benjamin Seitz died in July when his father left him in a hot car. Photo Credit: File

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – This year Ridgefield saw the death of a toddler who was left in a hot car and a teenager struck by a vehicle as well as the opening of a new library.

In July, 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz died after his father, Kyle, left him in a hot car for several hours. The father was supposed to drop his son off at day-care but instead went to work, police said. He discovered his son’s body at the end of the work day. The boy's death was ruled a homicide, and Kyle Seitz was charged with negligent homicide in November and pleaded not guilty. Benjamin’s mother Lindsey Rogers-Seitz said she forgave her husband, and started a crusade for car safety regulations and laws to prevent similar incidents.

After years of planning, Ridgefield celebrated the opening of a new public library in May. In a ceremony led by characters from hometown hero Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are,” the community cut the ribbon on a $20 million, three-story facility with rooms for children, teens, and adults.

A 15-year-old Ridgefield High School student died in March after she was hit by a car while walking on Ridgebury Road at night. Emma Sandhu was remembered as a talented dancer and an honors student. The driver of the car that killed Sandhu was not charged in the incident, but eight people were arrested in connection with an underage drinking party that took place near where the fatal accident occurred.

Ridgefield’s Tucker West finished 22nd overall in the men’s luge at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, this year. The 18-year-old finished with a total time of 3:31:217 in his four runs. West received national attention when he appeared in an interview on the “Today” show with his father, Brett West, who had built a backyard luge run for his son back in 2002 and told the young women in the audience that his son was “very single.” By the end of the year, West had increased his world ranking to fifth, after winning a World Cup race in Lake Placid, N.Y., and placing second at another in Canada. His Lake Placid victory was the first by an American luger in 17 years.

Ridgefield also celebrated the opening of a new movie house, the Prospector Theater. The former bank on Prospect Street was converted to a theater with four screens, including two with stadium seating, which will show first-run movies, cult classics and documentaries.

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