2 Officers Patrol Cars Struck in the Past 3 Weeks on Car Stops in South Brunswick

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South Brunswick Police Department is sounding the alarm about motorists’ needing to Move Over while police conduct motor vehicle stops. “In the past 3 weeks, we have had 2 patrol officers SUVs struck while conducting motor vehicle stops. We are lucky that in both cases no officers were injured, but one police car was totaled,” said Chief Raymond Hayducka. He added, “It is dangerous to be stopping vehicles on the highways, sometimes only feet from trucks and cars going 55 mph. We need drivers help at moving over or reducing their speed when they see a police car with its lights on.”
The first case took place on April 29, 2024, at 3:37 am. South Brunswick Officers Jorge Robles, Ben Salihi, and Sgt Jesse Blake were already on a car stop for an impaired driver on Route 130 near Viking Way. As they were evaluating the driver with a field sobriety test, a second vehicle crashed into the rear of the police SUV at a high rate of speed. (See video). The driver of the second vehicle, Gonzalo Najera age 30 of Princeton, was found to be driving while intoxicated and arrested. The patrol SUV was totaled in the crash. Najera was charged with multiple offenses, including driving while under the influence.

The second crash occurred Thursday at 8:30 am on Route 130 near Broadway Road. Patrolman First Class Jason Gassman was conducting a motor vehicle stop with his emergency lights activated. While the officer was speaking to the driver of his traffic stop, a Grey Honda Odyssey minivan sideswiped the police SUV, damaging its driver’s side. The driver continued northbound without stopping. South Brunswick Police Traffic Safety Bureau is still investigating the hit-n-run.

“These two incidents highlight the danger officers face every day. If PFC Gassman had been on the driver’s side yesterday, this would be a much different story,” said Chief Hayducka. New Jersey law is clear on the requirements to MOVE OVER or slow down as you approach an emergency vehicle operating in the roadway. Chief Hayducka added, “It only takes seconds to slow down and move over, but the difference by not doing so can be a tragedy.”

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