Lyndhurst PD: Cop flying drone for training spots disabled vehicle, driver was drunk


A police officer who was undergoing ongoing training to pilot a drone wound up coming up with an arrest, by sheer chance, when as he flew the machine at the Route 17 loop, he located on the drone’s camera a disabled vehicle that ultimately had a drunken-driver inside it, Det. Lt. Vincent Auteri, the Lyndhurst Police Department’s public information officer, said.

Confused? Not to worry. Here’s how it all went down, according to Auteri.

It was around 2 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, when Sgt. Richard Jasinski was piloting his drone about Lyndhurst. Drone pilots have to take training each month to remain certified to operate them. At the time, he was with Det. William Kapp and they noticed a newer-model Kia Optima at the Route 17 loop (down by the hotels).

So, headquarters dispatched Officer Michael Clifford to the location, where he found the vehicle and Cristopher Abarca-Garro, 30, of Newark, sitting in the damaged vehicle. Abarca-Garro told Clifford he took a curve too quickly, lost control and hit something.

At this point, Clifford says he could smell alcohol on Abarca-Garro’s breath, detected his eyes were watery and blood-shot and he was slurring his words. Abarca-Garro was given field-sobriety tests at the scene, and apparently failed those. Auteri says Abarca-Garro blew a .1 on the BAC machine, .02 points above the maximum-allowable BAC in Jersey.

Abarca-Garro was issued summonses for drunken driving and was then released on his own recognizance, pending court.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.