A motorist who fell sound asleep behind the wheel sped off in his car when awakened by police, leading them on a chase, authorities reported. But, when they ended that chase because of safety concerns, the driver also stopped. Go figure.
Kearny Police Chief John Dowie said the drama began at 3:30 a.m. last Wednesday, March 26, when Officer Tim Castle noticed that an SUV stopped at the traffic light at Passaic and Bergen Aves. did not move when the signal changed. Castle and Officer Glenn Reed approached the vehicle, which was immobile in the southbound lane, and reportedly found the driver fast asleep.
Their efforts to wake him failed. Neither was he roused when Officer Mike Santucci hit the horn and siren on his patrol car, police said. Castle, who spotted an open can of beer on the center console, began trying to open the door, at which point the man finally awakened, hit the gas and accelerated through the light, which was again red, police said.
The officers tried to overtake him as he traveled down Passaic, running another red light near Kmart, hitting the curb several times and occasionally crossing into the northbound lane, Dowie said.
The SUV continued into East Newark and Harrison, where it made a right turn onto the Bridge St. bridge.
Realizing that it was probably heading to Route 21, the cops terminated the pursuit for safety reasons and began stopping traffic in the area. Then they saw that the driver had, of his own accord, halted on the far side of the bridge.
When Castle approached, the man exited the SUV and fell to the ground, Dowie said.
Taken into custody was 33-year-old Kearny resident Neal Covert, who was issued summonses for red light violations, DWI and refusal to take a breath test. He was also charged criminally with eluding police.
Other recent reports from the KPD blotter included the following:
Officer Luis Moran was on patrol at 5 p.m. when he saw a suspicious individual on a bicycle at Passaic and N. Midland Aves., police said. The man, Howard Morrison, 41, of Newark, was arrested on two outstanding drug-related Newark warrants and was later turned over to Newark police.
Officer Jay Ward, patrolling on the 250 block of Highland Ave. at 9:40 p.m., came across a double-parked car and wrote a ticket. He was approached by an allegedly loud and profane Luis Machuca, 28, of Kearny, who was unhappy about the summons and, though warned that the car would be towed, refused to move it, police said. Machuca was arrested after an inquiry showed he had an outstanding $1,000 warrant out of Newark, police said. He was allowed to contact a friend, who removed the car.
At 3:45 a.m., Officer Glen Reed, assisting the Kearny Fire Department during a reported smoke condition, was evacuating an apartment building on the 700 block of Schuyler Ave. when he encountered Harold Acosta, 39, of Kearny hanging out a window.
Acosta reportedly ignored instructions to leave his apartment, so Reed escorted him out. After the building was cleared, Acosta was again found inside, in a hallway, police said. He said he was cold, but reportedly refused an offer to sit in a patrol car and get warm, began screaming and was then escorted to the car, charged with disorderly conduct.
Sgt. John Becker, investigating a suspicious car inside the closed Arlington Cemetery at 2:20 a.m., saw a group of people sitting on headstones and taking photographs. With Officers Joe Martin and Brian Wisely as backup, Becker approached the group and, at the feet of one, spotted an open backpack containing an unmarked Rx bottle, police said. A metal spoon and four envelopes of Suboxone were also found, police said. Eugienio Pizarro, 32, of Hopatcong was charged with unlawful possession of a prescription drug and drug paraphernalia and was issued a summons for a suspended driver’s license.
At 5:10 a.m., Officers Mike Santucci and Kevin Canaley responded to Quick Chek, where management reported a man had entered the store, did not buy anything but refused to leave. He also refused Santucci’s request to depart, began cursing at both cops, and then resisted being cuffed, police said. Harrison resident Luciano Yuelling, 30, was charged with defiant trespass, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
Officers Jordenson Jean and John Fabula, patrolling at Harrison and Bergen Aves. at 2:30 p.m., saw a Pennsylvaniaregistered auto make an illegal turn. After a motor vehicle stop, it was found that the driver, Roman Pavelko, 31, of Hamilton, N.J., had a suspended license and was the subject of a warrant from Hopewell. He was charged on both counts.
At 3:30 p.m., Sgt. Paul Bershefski spotted Ulises Rebozo, 40, of Kearny, walking east on the railroad trestle at N. Midland Ave., police said. Since the trestle is private property, Rebozo was charged with defiant trespass.
Also at 3:30 p.m., Officers Daniel Esteves and Sean Kelly saw an auto being operated recklessly at Johnston and Grant Aves. and followed it to John St., where it parked, police said. A passenger alighted, reportedly holding a glass bong and a small metal container, which police said he discarded on the ground near his feet. Police said the bong was found to hold remnants of a CDS; the container, suspected marijuana. Tyler Jordan, 20, of no known address, was arrested on charges of possession of a CDS and paraphernalia. The driver received summonses for careless driving, a loud muffler and an unclear license plate.
Officers Jean and Fabula encountered 28-year-old Kearny resident Sidnei Antunes at Afton St. and Kearny Ave. at 8:15 p.m. and confirmed that he was the subject of several warrants — one from East Newark and four from Harrison. He was processed at headquarters and turned over to the Harrison PD.
Officer Tom Floyd was called to Walmart at 12:30 a.m. and found that Jason Combs, 25, of Clinton, Iowa, had allegedly attempted to leave the premises without paying for a Starbucks cappuccino and 34 packs of “Magic: The Gathering” cards, with a total value of $138.10. Combs was charged with shoplifting.
– Karen Zautyk