That river miracle and other Nutley PD news

By Karen Zautyk

Further details have been released regarding that miraculous Passaic River survival story reported in last week‘s Observer. The apparent would-be suicide, who plunged into the raging waters during Hurricane Irene, and then managed to escape the lethal current, has been identified as a 46-year-old Belleville woman, although her name had not been released as of press time.
When she was found, walking in Belleville, there was indeed evidence that she had been in the flood-swollen river.
To recount: Shortly before 1 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 28, as the storm raged, Nutley police went to the DeJessa Bridge, which connects this town with Lyndhurst, in response to a 911 call.
A Belleville motorist, who had just crossed the span and was turning onto River Road, reported seeing a barefoot woman, clad in black shorts and blue shirt, running east down Park Ave. in the rain. He said he opened his window and asked her if she was all right, but she ran in front of his car and down onto the Dock St. boat launch. He followed and saw her jump into the river.
According to Nutley Det. Anthony Montanari, the man gave responding officers a very detailed statement as to what he had witnessed and, after being interviewed by Montanari at police headquarters, provided a two-page written statement.
Police from Nutley and adjoining towns “scoured the shoreline,” aided by emergency lighting provided by the Nutley Rescue Squad. Towns downriver also were asked to assist in the search.
A short time later, Montanari reported, Belleville officers found a woman fitting the jumper’s description and “covered in mud and river debris,” walking along River Road in Belleville.
She was taken to Clara Maass Medical Center for evaluation and interviewed there by Nutley Det. Robert McDermott. He stated that the details regarding how she was able to get back on shore were sketchy, and she was distraught and exhibiting signs of intoxication.
Police Director Alphonse Petracco praised all the emergency service personnel for their response and the way multiple jurisdictions and various departments worked together. Police Chief John Holland offered a special thanks to the witness who had called 911 and provided an accurate description, which assisted in locating the woman and getting her help.
Nutley police and other first responders were answering calls around the clock before, during and after Hurricane Irene. Please note that the following blotter for the week ending Aug. 31 reflects only a few of these:

Aug. 26
2:41 p.m. — Police assisted a 58-year-old man on Vincent Place when his mobility scooter overturned after hitting an uneven sidewalk. The man suffered minor bruises and refused further medical attention.
8:45 p.m. — A Franklin Ave. grocer reported a woman left the store with unpaid groceries. Police were able to determine the identity of the Clifton resident and are investigating. Charges are likely.
10:25 p.m. — Police were called to the aid of a River Road woman who said she had just been assaulted by an ex-boyfriend. Officers observed his vehicle traveling south on River Road and stopped it with the assistance of Belleville police. Shyane Rodriguez, 20, of North Bergen was charged with harassment, possession of a weapon — a “collapsible police baton” — and resisting arrest. Unable to post bail, he was transported to Essex County Jail.
10:50 p.m. — Police and firefighters responded to a report of a car fire on Harrison St. and found a 1999 Chrysler van fully engulfed in flames. Both departments are investigating.

Aug. 27
1:10 p.m. — An honest township resident found an envelope containing a large sum of money on Centre St. and notified police. The owner later responded to headquarters and arranged to get the envelope back.
1:40 p.m. — A concerned citizen called police when they saw a man acting suspiciously in the area of Bloomfield Ave. and Centre St. Officers on scene found that 37-year-old Paul Matusas of Belleville was wanted by the Essex County Sheriff’s Department and on a $750 warrant out of Newark. He was placed under arrest, transported to Police Headquarters and turned over to the custody of the Sheriff’s Department.
8:57 p.m. — On the shoulder of Rt. 21, police recovered a large truck that was reported stolen out of Elizabeth. Police impounded the vehicle and notified the reporting agency of its recovery.

Aug. 28
2:56 a.m. — Police went to a Kingsland Ave. residence in response to a call for help. Officers had to force their way into the home, damaging the front door, and found a 93-year-old woman trapped in her electric reclining chair. She was not injured, but simply immobilized due to a power outage that kept her from sitting up.
6:17 a.m. — Police and Fire personnel responded to a ceiling collapse at a Hillside Ave. residence. Firefighters were able to pull the remaining ceiling down to ensure no one would be injured and to minimize the potential for water getting into electric boxes.
7:42 a.m. — Police responded to a Ridge Road home where a 53-year-old man had inhaled fumes while working on a generator. He later refused further medical attention.
8:17 a.m. — Police were called to Cross St. when a tree fell onto a home.
10:52 a.m. — An Oakcrest resident complained that their basement was flooded as a result of the neighbor’s actions. The resident said the neighbor had dug a trench along their fence to convey water that drained onto his property. The homeowner was advised of their right to sign a complaint.
12:20 p.m. — Police were called to the William St. Senior Building where a relative of a resident was creating a disturbance. Robert Davey, 49, of Nutley allegedly shoved one of the investigating officers and was arrested and charged with aggravated assault on a police officer and resisting arrest. Davey was later released pending a court date.
8:50 p.m. — A tree was reported down atop a Kingsland Ave. residence and hanging on live wires. The area was secured.

Aug. 30
6:30 p.m. — Suspicious parents reported that a man was taking pictures of the 7th and 8th grade cheerleaders in back of Lincoln School. The parents said they had asked the man several times to stop photographing the girls. He was checked for warrants and was instructed to not take any more photos. Police said he claimed to have been photographing trees. Detectives conducted a search of the man’s home and found nothing illegal.

Aug. 31
2:59 a.m. — A police officer conducting surveillance of a local convenience store that had reported frequent thefts of newspaper bundles observed a motorist stop his vehicle, pick up 50 papers, place them in the car — which fit the description of one used in previous incidents — and drive off. The officer stopped 58-year-old Sharad Pandya of Nutley and charged him with theft. Police said they are in the process of reviewing surveillance footage from nearly half-a-dozen other stores that reported papers being stolen and have already associated the suspect with a Centre St. theft.

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