UNION, NJ – The events leading up to a deadly crash Sunday began at about 4 p.m., when police were summoned to the Target/Whole Foods stores on Vauxhall Road to assist with an alleged shoplifter resisting arrest.
According to Union police, officers attempted to arrest the suspect, who was violently resisting, shouting that he had AIDS. The suspect bit one of the officers and was able to break free, police said. The man ran to a nearby Jaguar and attempted to hit at least one of the officers before fleeing eastbound onto Springfield Avenue, police said.
Responding officers spotted the fleeing vehicle in the area of Springfield Avenue and Vauxhall Road as it got bogged down in heavy traffic, according to police, before the vehicle cut through a Jiffy Lube and fled on Vauxhall Road toward Valley Street.
As the fleeing vehicle reached the Mozzarella factory in Springfield, the driver lost control as he attempted to take the turn at high speed, police said. The vehicle overturned, crashed into an unoccupied medical complex building and caught fire. The sole occupant was entrapped in the vehicle.
Springfield police and fire departments responded with additional manpower from Union police. Upon extinguishing the fire, the driver was found dead inside the vehicle.
Two Union officers suffered smoke and fire injuries and were transported to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, police said, while another officer sustained a laceration attempting to rescue the driver. He was treated at the scene.
The investigation is ongoing, police said. The identity of the deceased is pending.