Two men led police on a wild, high-speed car chase – and then a foot pursuit – Thursday, Aug. 30, ending when their car – stolen from a Kearny resident – crashed into a utility pole, then a building on Passaic Avenue and the pair fled into the weeds.
One was collared in the marsh and the other was plucked from the Passaic River, near the closed Clay Street Bridge.
Kalei Cheek, 19, of Newark, was charged with carjacking, eluding and several motor vehicle violations; Noel Johnson, 18, of Kearny, was charged with resisting arrest and receiving stolen property.
Police said the episode began at 10:30 a.m. when they received a report that someone had stolen a 2011 silver Infiniti that was left parked with the motor running on Seeley Avenue after the owner had tried to open the rear door as the thief was driving away.
After a radio alert and description of the vehicle was broadcast, police said Officer Adriano Marques spotted the Infiniti speeding southbound on Belgrove Drive heading towards his patrol car. Police said the Infiniti, driven by Cheek, went up on the sidewalk, narrowly avoiding the patrol car and continued south on Belgrove.
Police said Marques made a U-turn and began following the Infiniti as it headed west on Bergen Avenue. at an excessive speed. At that point, Marques gave up the chase, opting instead to radio the vehicle’s position to other police units.
At this point, police said, Sgt. John Taylor spotted the Infiniti southbound on Passaic Avenue at about 80 mph and positioned his patrol car to block egress from Belgrove to prevent traffic mishaps. Police said the Infiniti, heading toward Taylor, began fishtailing and careened off a utility pole before crashing into the old Jeep Co. building on Passaic Avenue.
Police said Cheek and Johnson abandoned the wrecked car and bailed out, mounting a railroad embankment, and scaling two cyclone fences, with Taylor and officers Chris Levchak and Joe Vulcano in pursuit. The chase continued through the Basso Container Co. property in East Newark on the river side of Passaic Avenue where the two suspects split up in the marsh, where the Kearny cops were joined by East Newark and Harrison P.D. and State Police Trooper Robert Ciewicz, a Kearny resident.
Taylor finally caught up with Johnson but Cheek jumped into the river and began floating toward the Clay Street Bridge, prompting officers to dispatch several police boats.
Kearny P.D. got bridge workers, involved with repairs to the closed span, to open the bridge gates so they could get access to the underside of the bridge after spotting Cheek hanging onto the pilings. However, after Cheek ended up in the water, police said a Newark P.D. fireboat piloted by Officer Ken Brown, also a Kearny resident, fished him out of the river at about 11:15 a.m.
Kearny Police Chief John Dowie commended Marques and Taylor for their actions. Dowie said Marques acted responsibly by giving up the chase to prevent the possibility of a highway crash that could have involved other vehicles and pedestrians. And the chief credited Taylor for his unselfish conduct by “putting himself in harm’s way” as the suspects’ car was zooming towards him. In other incidents logged by Kearny P.D. during the past week:
A thief stole a 2011 Porsche after it had been cleaned at the Personal Touch Car Wash, at Beech Street and the Belleville Turnpike, at 5:45 p.m. Police said the car owner, a Bergenfield resident, had just exited the office after paying for the cleaning when she spotted a black man with dreadlocks getting into the Porsche and driving it east on the Pike. Police broadcast an alert to surrounding towns but the vehicle couldn’t be located.
Police arrested Brian Sudziarski, 35, of Kearny, on various drug charges at 2:10 p.m. at Kearny Avenue and Patterson Street. Noticing him shaking, police said that when they approached, Sudziarski discarded a metal bottle cap that can be used for “cooking” drugs.
Police said he was also clutching an object that, upon inspection, turned out to be two glassine folds of suspected heroin stamped “American Greed.” Police said they also found a hypodermic needle on him.
Omar Rosado, 36, of Kearny, was charged with DWI, operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated with a minor in the vehicle and failure to exhibit registration and insurance. Police said Rosado was weaving across the center lane while traveling south on Schuyler Avenue and, when he was pulled over on Bergen Avenue near King Street at 9:29 p.m., had a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.
A man told police he was held up and robbed at gunpoint by three men on Chestnut Street near West Hudson Park at 8:30 p.m. Police said the robbers took the victim’s iPhone and his wallet and fled on foot. Searching the area, police said Officer John Fabula found someone matching the description of one of the suspects who was wanted on outstanding warrants from Newark and Essex County. He was held on the warrants.
Police were called to the Quick Check on Kearny Avenue at 4:40 a.m. after four customers were causing a disturbance. Police said the men wanted to buy cigarettes but the store clerk refused and asked them to leave. Police said Officer Tom Sumowski ordered them to go and two obliged but two refused. Police said one of the holdouts, David Doria, 22, of Harrison, began grappling with the officer and both fell to the floor, at which point Doria broke free and ran out of the store but Sumowski caught up with him around the corner on Chestnut Street and arrested him. Doria was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
– Ron Leir