Crash triggers rude awakening for couple


Shortly after 2 a.m. last Thursday, Harrison’s Art and Trish Pettigrew were awakened by the noise of screeching tires and what “sounded like an explosion,” Art Pettigrew, a former Harrison councilman, said.

“The whole house [on the 300 block of Frank E. Rodgers Boulevard South] shook,” he said.

Pettigrew ran outside to see what had happened and was greeted by the sight of “a utility pole swinging back and forth, our front railings and gate gone and something flashing on the roof came down.”

And, he said, the damage extended to a neighbor’s parked car which was smashed in on the driver’s side from the impact of another vehicle having crashed into it.

There were also several Newark Police Department patrol cars on the block and officers advised Pettigrew to go back inside and he said he quickly complied.

Pettigrew said he was told by officers that the Newark PD had been engaged in a pursuit of a criminal suspect reportedly driving at speeds approaching 90 to 100 mph, across the Jackson St. Bridge.

At that point, Pettigrew said, it is surmised that the suspect missed the turnoff to Rt. 280 and, instead, careened down FER Boulevard, and smashing into the pole, the front of his house and the parked vehicle.

Det. Lt. David Doyle of the Harrison Police Department confirmed that the incident “was a police chase involving Newark PD. We only handled [the] motor vehicle accident which is the only thing that occurred in Harrison.”

Doyle said he had no details about the Newark incident that apparently sparked the chase. As of press time, The Observer was unable to reach anyone from Newark PD authorized to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, the HPD logged reports of the following episodes that happened recently:

March 25

At about 11 a.m., Officer Carlos Manzano responded to a report of a burglary at a second-floor apartment on Harrison Ave.

Police said the occupant told the officer that he had left the apartment at about 8 a.m. and returned at about 10:30 a.m. to find his wife’s jewelry scattered on the bed in the couple’s bedroom.

After taking inventory of the couple’s valuables, the tenant told police that two Toshiba laptops, valued at $1,200 each, were missing, along with a $600 Seiko watch, a $600 gold chain and $600 gold men’s bracelet.

Police said they found no sign of forced entry to the apartment’s front-entrance door or to a rear-entrance door, but the tenant surmised that the intruder got in through a kitchen window although police observed no damage to the window.

Police said an upstairs neighbor who was home between 8 and 11 a.m. said he heard no noises coming from the victim’s apartment during that time.

March 26

Shortly after 8 p.m., Officer Steven Krushinski was sent to a John St. first-floor apartment to check on a burglary report.

Police said the couple living there showed the officer several opened doors inside the apartment: a rear door leading to the back yard, a kitchen door, a closet door off a hallway and the front door leading to the hallway entrance.

Police said the chain on the front door was undone, which probably accounts for how the intruder got in and out.

Apparently, police said, entry was gained through the back door from the yard and, from there, the would-be burglar was likely scared away, either by a dog inside the apartment or by noise from second-floor tenants.

The intruder probably got into the apartment sometime between 2 and 8 p.m., police said.

The couple found nothing missing from the first-floor apartment, police said.

March 29

An out-of-town resident was collared at the Rite-Aid in the Bergen St. mall after police said he allegedly tried to pay for items using a counterfeit $10 bill.

Officer Matthew Murphy responded to the Rite-Aid at about 3:20 p.m., where he was met by the store manager, Luis Velasquez, who had detained the customer, later identified as Joseph Marshall, 50, of East Orange, for having reportedly tried to pass the bogus bill.

The manager told Murphy that Marshall had paid for merchandise at the store on three previous occasions with fake $10 bills and turned over those bills to the officer.

When Marshall showed up that day, Velasquez said he recognized he man from his prior visits and alerted cashiers about him, police said.

Police said Marshall claimed that he had obtained the fake money in change from a store where had made a previous purchase.

Police seized the four counterfeit $10 bills as evidence, along with a Staples receipt for the purchase of an Epson T220 Color Ink from Marshall for a follow-up investigation. Police notified the U.S. Secret Service about the incident.

Marshall was charged with forged writing and theft by deception and was issued a warrant for the same offenses. He was taken to Hudson County Jail pending court action after Harrison Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth McNamara set bail at $10,000 with a 10% cash option.

Learn more about the writer ...