By Karen Zautyk
In one of the more bizarre stories thus far this year, a 53-year-old East Newark woman allegedly stole a police SUV from that borough on Sunday and took it on a joy ride, which ended when she caused two separate accidents on Kearny Ave., police reported.
Although she apparently escaped serious injury – as did those in the vehicles she hit – she had to be extricated from the SUV.
And sources told The Observer that she was handcuffed to the steering wheel.
East Newark authorities referred all questions concerning the case to the borough attorney, Neil Marotta, who declined specific comment until the investigation is concluded. Marotta did, however, confirm that the SUV had been stolen from the carport at East Newark police headquarters.
How far the woman, identified as Sonia Horvaht, drove the SUV is not yet known, but Kearny police said that at 7:10 p.m. Sunday, May 22, she was heading south at a high rate of speed on Ridge Road, coming out of North Arlington, when she ran a red light at the Belleville Turnpike and crashed into a Toyota pickup truck and a Toyota minivan on the Kearny side.
Police said Horvaht left the scene and continued south on Kearny Ave., running another red light at Seeley Ave., a block from the Pike, and hitting three vehicles that had been traveling on Seeley– a Honda Odyssey, a Nissan Maxima and a Pontiac Grand Prix.
That’s where the joy ride ended.
Horvaht was trapped in the crushed SUV, and the Kearny Fire Department had to use the Jaws of Life to cut her free. The fact that the police vehicle had a roll bar and a prisoner “cage” separating the front and rear, made the job “kind of a special extrication,“ an FD spokesman said.
The injured from both accidents were all treated at the scene by EMS, police said. Reportedly none required transportation to a hospital.
Horvaht was charged in Kearny with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and failure to report an accident.
In East Newark, she was charged with “theft by unlawful taking.”
When The Observer spoke to Marotta late last week, he noted that the matter was still under internal investigation and he was waiting for reports to be finalized.
“We need to get all our facts straight,” he said.