Police & Fire

Two Hit-and-Runs in West Orange Lead to DWI Arrests

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WEST ORANGE, NJ – Two hit-and-run incidents resulted in two individual DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) arrests in West Orange this month.

Police officers responded to the area of 45 Whittlesey Avenue on a report of a hit-and-run motor vehicle accident on May 6. While en route, headquarters advised responding units that the operator of one of the vehicles, a Hispanic male, fled the scene and was now running south on Whittlesey Avenue. The officer was flagged down by a concerned citizen, who informed him that he observed a Hispanic male run from the crash scene and continue down John Street.

The officer found the Hispanic male, exited the patrol car, and ordered this individual to stop several times to further investigate, according to police reports. The individual ignored his lawful order to stop, and the officer began pursuing him on foot.

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After catching up with the individual, he placed him under arrest. While speaking with this individual, the arresting officer smelled alcoholic on his breath. The individual had difficulty standing and walking.

An officer who was at the scene of the motor vehicle accident interviewed one of the witnesses/victim of the accident. The victim observed that his vehicle was damaged, and a dark-colored Honda CRV was stopped in the middle of the street a few houses down.

The victim told police that he immediately ran up to the car after noticing that the operator was still sitting in the driver's seat to make sure he was not injured. According to the witness, the driver turned off the vehicle and exited it.

The witness advised the driver that he was going to call the police, at which time the driver began running. The witness immediately contacted the police.

The witness positively identified a picture of the apprehended individual as the driver of the vehicle. The apprehended individual was charged with obstruction, DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, delaying traffic, failure to possess insurance, and failure to possess registration.

Police officers were dispatched on the next day to another hit-and-run incident reported near 6 Watson Avenue. Upon arrival, the officers observed two vehicles with driver-side damage, curbside, in front of that address.

Vehicle No. 1 was a gold Toyota Corolla, which had damage from rear to front of the driver side and was pushed on to the sidewalk. Vehicle No. 2 was a blue Nissan Rouge, which had damage to its rear bumper and rear door.

Concerned citizens stated that they observed a black pickup truck collide with the vehicles. Headquarters broadcasted the description of the black pick-up truck to all WOPD units, according to the police report.

Police said officers spotted the vehicle travelling eastbound on Cherry Street at the intersection of Franklin Avenue. The officer spotting the truck followed it in an unmarked car. According to the officer, the pick-up truck almost hit two parked vehicles while making the right turns.

After swerving, the vehicle suddenly stopped, approximately 60 feet from the intersection of Chestnut Street and Watson Avenue. The driver provided a New Jersey driver's license and insurance/registration documents for a different vehicle.

While speaking to the driver, the officer observed two empty Corona beer bottles in a black backpack located on the center console in plain view. According to police, the driver had a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from his breath.

In addition, police said the driver’s speech was slurred, and that his eyes were dilated and bloodshot red. After failing the Field Sobriety tests that were conducted, the driver was arrested and transported to headquarters.

The defendant was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, careless driving, having an open container of alcoholic beverage, failure to report an accident, failure to possess registration, failure to possess driving insurance card, and refusal to provide breath test. The defendant's pick-up truck was impounded and he released into the custody of his wife.

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