As a driver pulled his BMW off the highway early Friday morning, he swerved to avoid a car and struck a pole. Three of the car’s occupants survived the collision. The fourth did not.
Here’s what happened, according to police spokesman Officer David Hartman:
At 1:05 a.m. Friday, cops responded to State and James streets on a report of a crash, just off the I-91 exit ramp.
A 2003 BMW 325 had hit a utility pole. The 43-year-old driver told cops another driver had cut him off as he was exiting the highway. He had to swerve to avoid a collision, and hit a pole.
Walter Ruiz, the 36-year-old in the rear back seat, hadn’t been wearing a seat belt, and had been leaning forward between the two front seats at the time of the crash, according to investigators. He was fatally injured in the collision and pronounced dead at the scene.
The other three men in the car were taken to the hospital for the treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.
“There has been no arrest, nor determination as to which factors contributed to this tragic accident,” said Hartman.
In other police news, according to Hartman:
Cops Nab Would-Be Vandal: At about 1 p.m. Thursday, Officer Paul Mandel spotted a 50-year-old man, a drifter with a history of anti-police behavior (it would turn out), walking toward the rear of police headquarters on Union Avenue. The man reached in a white bag, withdrew some “small items,” and flung them underneath the tires of personal cars owned by cops, unmarked cop cars, and police cruisers.
When the man saw Officer Mandel following him, “he turned and gestured at him with his middle finger prominently extended,” Hartman said.
Cops apprehended the man and found his bag contained carpentry nails that he had placed under about 75 cars. “These vehicles would have surely suffered considerable damage had they been driven off,” Hartman said.
Cops arrested the man for attempting to commit criminal mischief and breach of peace.
A public works street-cleaner to removed the nails from the road.
“In recent weeks, the NHPD has been targeted in other acts of vandalism including officers’ cars being ‘keyed,’ paint thrown at the building and the cutting down of the American flag from its pole,” Hartman said. The arrested man “has not been tied in to these crimes, but investigators have considered him a suspect.”
Cop Car Accident: While Officers Brian Jackson, Chris Boyle and Edward Douglas were responding by car to a call for assistance from officers involved in a tussle with an armed felon in Newhallville, they got into an accident. Officer Jackson lost control of the car he was driving and struck a fence. He and the two other cops, who had been passengers in the car, were taken to the hospital for treatment of minor injuries.