Driver of Paterson’s car crash was fleeing burglary, sources say

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The fatal multi-vehicle crash that killed a pedestrian in the bustling downtown shopping district of Paterson on Tuesday afternoon began with an attempted burglary several blocks away, according to four sources familiar with the investigation.

The unidentified burglary suspect allegedly escaped a foot pursuit by police on Ellison Street, jumped into a Honda CRV with its engine running on Oliver Street and collided with a Paterson police vehicle before colliding with a other vehicle and spiraling out of control into pedestrians on the crowded corner of Main and Market streets, the sources said.

The CRV – with its front end shattered after hitting a lamppost – came to rest on a man who was later pronounced dead, the sources say. The burglary suspect fled the vehicle but was apprehended shortly after, the sources said.

Video of the scene sent to Paterson Press shows the victim lying on Market Street, parallel to the curb, with his head below the area of ​​the driver’s side front tire. Debris from the crashes was strewn across the street and sidewalk as sirens sounded. People – expressing their shock at the incident – rushed along the sidewalk, some stopping to take a photo or video with their mobile phones.

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As of Wednesday morning, the Passaic County District Attorney’s Office had not released the name of the victim or whether any criminal charges had been brought against the driver. In a press release late Tuesday evening, the prosecutor’s office said six people were injured in the accident in addition to the deceased man.

The sources said Paterson police received an initial call about the burglary suspect around 1 p.m., but the responding officer found no one in the area.

A second call about the burglary suspect came in after 2 p.m. and the officer at the scene pursued the man on foot, the sources said. But the suspect escaped when a fence the cop was climbing collapsed, sources said. The officer was injured in the fall and was taken to hospital for treatment, the sources said.

The officer whose police vehicle was struck by the CRV in the Oliver Street area was unaware that the driver had also been involved in the burglary pursuit, sources said.

Investigators found evidence linking the two incidents during their subsequent investigation, the sources said.

Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press.

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