82-year-old driver takes out poles: KPD


An octogenarian driver knocked down a utility pole, traffic signal and hit two cars while apparently attempting to pass another vehicle on Kearny Ave. last Wednesday, according to Kearny police.

Police Lt. John Taylor, in charge of the KPD’s traffic unit, said the incident occurred at 4:11 p.m. on Aug. 3 at Johnston and Kearny Aves.

Just before the crash, two vehicles were southbound on Kearny Ave., with a 2006 Nissan Altima operated by Bernardin Lucas, 82, of Newark, behind a 2014 Toyota Camry with a 54-year-old Edison woman at the wheel, Taylor said.

As they approached the Johnston intersection, both cars stopped for a red light, Taylor said.

Then, as the light changed to yellow, the Altima tried to pass the Camry on the right, at the southwest corner of the intersection, hitting the rear of the Camry, then ramming a concrete barrier and knocking over a traffic light and control box, next taking out a PSE&G light pole and a town trash can, and striking a parked 2012 Camry registered to a Kearny resident before ending up smacked against a street tree as the utility pole came down across the Altima’s hood.

Taylor said the Edison driver was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center, Belleville, for observation while Lucas was reportedly not hurt.

Taylor said Lucas told police that his foot had jammed on the accelerator, causing his vehicle to spin around the Camry. Witnesses told police that they saw the Altima try to get around the Camry by squeezing to her right, Taylor said.

In any case, Lucas was issued tickets charging him with careless driving and failure to obey a traffic signal.

For about a half hour after the crash, police detoured traffic off Kearny Ave. near the Johnston intersection until after the street had been cleared and investigators completed interviews.

– Ron Leir

Ron Leir | Observer Correspondent

Ron Leir has been a newspaperman since the late ’60s, starting his career with The Jersey Journal, having served as a summer reporter during college. He became a full-time scribe in February 1972, working mostly as a general assignment reporter in all areas except sports, including a 3-year stint as an assistant editor for entertainment, features, religion, etc. He retired from the JJ in May 2009 and came to The Observer shortly thereafter. He is also a part-time actor, mostly on stage, having worked most recently with the Kearny-based W.H.A.T. Co. and plays Sunday softball in Central Park, N.Y.