Three off-duty police officers from New Jersey were involved in a fatal head-on collision after their vehicle drove the wrong way down a New York highway. The three, along with a civilian friend, were leaving a strip club when the accident happened. The car plowed into a tractor trailer driven by a New York firefighter leaving two dead and two in critical condition.
The Daily Mail reports that the accident killed one of the officers along with the civilian friend. The two other police officers in the vehicle were taken to hospitals in Staten Island and are listed in critical condition. The tractor trailer driver is a New York firefighter and sustained injuries, but police say the injuries do not appear to be life threatening. New York Police Department spokeswoman Deputy Chief Kim Royster indicates that at least one other tractor trailer was forced to swerve off the road to avoid the oncoming vehicle.
The police are investigating if alcohol may have been at play in the accident, but say that there was no smell of alcohol in the vehicle.
The New York police say that the New Jersey police officers were leaving Curves strip club after what appeared to be “a party.” The department plans to review video footage of the officers night at the strip club and interview employees of the strip club.
“It appears they may have been coming from some kind of party.”
NJ.com notes that the accident occurred just before 5 a.m. on Friday morning. The police department is not releasing the names of the officers involved until family have been notified. However, the driver and passengers of the vehicle were all in their 20s. All three of the police officers worked at the Linden Police Department in New Jersey. The Linden Police Chief James Schulhafer and Linden Mayor Derek Armstead were notified of the accident at around 8 a.m. Upon learning the tragic news, Chief Schulhafer immediately left for New York, meeting NYPD officers at the Goethals Bridge to provide an escort.
Mayor Armstead says that all three police officers were relatively new to the police force, but that “everyone knows everyone” in the small town.
“Linden is a very small town. Everybody knows everybody. The officers involved are very proactive in our community, and it is just a sad day in Linden, it really is.”
Meanwhile, Chief Schulhafer says this is the first time in his 37 years working for the Linden police department that he remembers a police officer being killed noting it has been a hard day for the remaining officers.
“People are in a somber mood. I could see some officers with tears in their eyes. It is an emotional day for all of us. Like I said, we are a family and we’re all hurt by this.”
[Image Credit: AP Photo/Staten Island Advance, Irving Silverstein]