Man drives car into Third River in Nutley, isn’t seriously injured

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A 71-year-old man accidentally drove his car into the Third River this morning in Nutley, but wasn’t seriously injured, the Nutley Police Department said today in a news release.

Shortly after 10 a.m., police and fire officials responded to the area of Franklin Ave. and Harrison St. to find a white Honda CRV overturned in the river. Police say several residents, police officers and firefighters jumped into the river to rescue the driver, a Hamburg resident, who was waist deep in water — but not trapped in the vehicle.

The driver told police his foot may have slipped off the brake, causing his CRV to jump a cement-parking barrier and to crash through a 5-foot fence.

He then plummeted 10 feet from the parking lot into the river, the NPD said.

The driver, whose name was not released, was checked at the scene by EMS and was released into the custody of his son.

“This man is lucky he wasn’t submerged or injured more than he was,” Mayor and Police Director Alphonse Petracco said. “The plunge upside down was enough to seriously hurt an occupant, let alone becoming trapped under water. The emergency responders, civilians and local business owners didn’t think twice about jumping into the water to save this man. I commend all of them for their bravery.”

Police Chief Thomas Strumolo commended the rescue and fire department, Sgt. Graziano, Officers Stabinski,  Osetto, Canova, Argenteiri, Sandomenico, Hearns, Villano and O’Halloran for their actions, and said business owner John DeStefano, of Garutto’s, was one of the first to jump into the murky water.

He said although police and fire are trained to respond to incidents like this, it is extremely commendable to see local residents leap into action and help one another in a time of need.

Photos below courtesy of the NPD/Sgt. Anthony Montanari

Kevin Canessa | Journalist & Webmaster

Kevin Canessa Jr. is a journalist and webmaster at The Observer. He is responsible for the editorial content on the newspaper's website, the production of the e-Edition, covering the Nutley Police Department and more behind the scenes. From 2006 to 2008, he served as the editor of The Observer, where he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video for the very first time. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Fla., for four years until February 2016 and in 2016, moved back to Kearny to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.