EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ --A South River couple was killed on Sunday night, August 11 in a collision with an East Brunswick fire chief on Old Bridge Turnpike. The crash occurred around 7:30 P.M and the couple was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where they later died. The couple was identified on Tuesday as Edwin Porowski, age 90, and his wife Claire, age 79.
At 9:20 P.M, East Brunswick police sent out a community Nixle notification that Old Bridge Turnpike has been closed between Old Matawan Road and Rues Lane due to an investigation, and drivers should seek an alternative route.
According to officials at the East Brunswick Fire Department, the chief, a member of East Brunswick Fire District 1 was responding to a call in his department-issued SUV with both sirens and lights on at the time of the collision. The couple either did not see the fire vehicle, nor hear the sirens, and made a left onto Old Bridge Turnpike from Gunia Street, when they collided with the Fire vehicle. In response to a call to the District by TAPinto East Brunswick, the Chief was identified by District 1 as Andrew Drozdowski. The chief has reportedly been put on administrative leave pending the investigation.
Officials are investigating why the East Brunswick police department did not notify the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office in a timely matter, according to a spokesperson. A directive at the prosecutor’s office requires that they be notified of all motor vehicle accidents that result in either death or a fatal injury that will likely be the cause of death. The office has yet to release the amount of time it took for the East Brunswick police to notify the prosecutor's office, although there seems to be continuing concerns that proper protocols were followed. According to sources at the Fire Department, the couple were believed to still be alive when transported to the hospital, and the hospital did not immediately notify the Fire or Police Department that both victims died at the hospital.
In comments made to NJ.com, Sheryl Kotora, an executive administrator with East Brunswick Fire Department, has reportedly expressed doubt that there was any sort of delay between the time of the accident and notifying the prosecutor's office. “I find that hard to believe,” Kotora told NJ.com. She reportedly did not comment any further.
East Brunswick Fire Chief Frank LoSacco later issued the following statement:
My thoughts and prayers are with the family of the couple who were killed last night in the crash on Old Bridge Turnpike in East Brunswick. I realize there are some questions regarding what was known about the crash and when notifications were made to the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office. I have directed the Office of Professional Standards to review our internal handling of the crash to identify any policy or procedure changes that may need to be addressed concerning issues that were raised. I have given the Office of Professional Standards one week to produce this report and I will ensure that any changes necessary are made so that the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office continues to receive the full cooperation of our agency.
The investigation is ongoing.