Truck Slams Into NJ State Police Vehicles on Highway
The close call unfolded on I-80 in Allamuchy Township, New Jersey, back on February 23. New Jersey State Troopers and first responders were working at the scene of an earlier accident when a heavy-duty tow truck hauling a box truck careened towards the closed off lanes of the highway.
Dashcam video shows NJ State Trooper Stephen Lentini shining his flashlight to get the truck driver’s attention. But the vehicle kept moving straight toward him.
“It was just a matter of seconds where I realized he wasn’t stopping,” Trooper Lentini said.
Trooper Lentini ran out of the way just as the truck slammed into his vehicle, as well as two other state police cars and an ambulance.
“You have the firefighters running for their life,” NJ State Trooper Marcus Scheffer said. “You have other people running.”
Believing Trooper Lentini had been struck, NJ State Trooper Devry Mariano jumped into action.
“It came into my head, ‘Oh no. My fellow trooper. He’s down there. I have to get to him.’ Because in my head, he was already hit. Or worse,” Trooper Mariano said.
Thankfully, Trooper Lentini wasn’t hurt, and no serious injuries were reported.
“Everyone by God’s grace was paying attention,” Trooper Lentini said. “We’re all truly blessed that no one got injured or killed that night.”
The three state police vehicles were totaled, while the ambulance was damaged.
“It just looked like a pretty much, like a war zone,” Trooper Lentini said.
Officials said the crash highlighted the importance of New Jersey’s “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to slow down and move over to stay away from first responders and other emergency crews working on roadsides.
In 2010, NJ State Trooper Mark Castellano was struck and killed by a driver on I-95 while NJ State Trooper Sean Cullen was struck and killed by a car while responding to a car fire on I-295 in 2016. During both crashes, the striking drivers failed to follow the Move Over law.
“What seemingly simple law if not followed can result in a tragedy that we sometimes relive each and every day,” New Jersey State Police Superintendent Colonel Patrick Callahan said.
State Police continued to investigate last month’s crash. The tow truck driver was given a summons for careless driving.