Latest on wrong-way crash: Dad expresses no anger at driver

AP News
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Posted: Mar 20, 2015 8:33 PM
Latest on wrong-way crash: Dad expresses no anger at driver

8:30 P.M.

The father of a man who was killed along with an off-duty police officer after their car crashed into a truck while going the wrong way called his son "my pal" and said they planned to go trout fishing in two weeks.

Angelo Rodriguez spoke Friday to The Associated Press on the doorstep of the family's home in Linden. He described his son, Joseph, as well-spoken, well-mannered and always willing to help people. At times, Rodriguez broke into tears.

"I'm still in shock," he said. "He ain't coming home no more."

Rodriguez didn't seem angry at the driver, another off-duty police officer. Police are investigating whether alcohol played a part in the accident.

Rodriguez said: "It doesn't matter if the driver was drinking because accidents happen."

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5:30 P.M.

Authorities say they have applied for a warrant to test the blood-alcohol level of an off-duty police officer behind the wheel of a car that smashed into a tractor-trailer while going the wrong way on a New York City highway.

The New York Police Department said Friday that Linden Officer Pedro Abad's blood has been drawn and investigators applied for the warrant. The crash killed Abad's fellow officer Frank Viggiano and a friend Joe Rodriguez. A third off-duty officer, Patrik Kudlac, was critically injured along with Abad.

Abad had posted a photo on Instagram hours earlier of three shot glasses filled with alcohol. Police say the four men were at a strip club on Staten Island before the fatal crash early Friday.

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5:15 P.M.

A patrol captain who worked with the three off-duty New Jersey police officers involved in a deadly wrong-way crash on a New York City highway says they were all good cops.

William Turbett Jr. said Friday that he's known Linden police Officer Frank Viggiano for years and had to break the news of his death to his parents. Turbett says Viggiano loved fishing and his mother even asked Turbett this morning: "Where were they? Were they on their way fishing someplace?"

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead says he was a very pleasant young man who once served as his driver.

Viggiano and a civilian were killed in the Friday morning crash, while two other off-duty officers remain hospitalized in critical condition.

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3:55 P.M.

An off-duty New Jersey officer who drove the car involved in a deadly wrong-way crash on a New York City highway had posted a photo on Instagram hours earlier of three shot glasses filled with alcohol.

Patrol Capt. William Turbett Jr. confirmed Friday that the Instagram account belonged to 27-year-old Linden police Officer Pedro Abad. Abad was critically injured in the crash along with another officer. A third officer and a civilian were killed.

Abad identifies the drinks in the photos as "Jack Daniels Fire." A spokeswoman with the New York Police Department says the group of four had left a strip club before the crash.

Another Instagram post shows Abad as a member of the honor guard for the funeral procession of a slain Philadelphia police officer last weekend.

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3:20 P.M.

Officials are identifying the three off-duty New Jersey officers and the civilian involved in a deadly wrong-way crash on a New York City highway.

Linden police Capt. James Sarnicki says the driver of the car was 27-year-old Officer Pedro Abad, a six-year veteran of the Linden Police Department. Abad was critically injured in the crash, along with 23-year-old Officer Patrik Kudlac, who had been on the force for two years.

He says 28-year-old Officer Frank Viggiano died in the crash. He was a five-year veteran. Also killed was 28-year-old Linden resident Joe Rodriguez.

Sarnicki says Abad and Kudlac are "fighting for their lives."

The car had left a strip club and was headed in the wrong direction on a Staten Island highway when it struck a tractor-trailer. The truck driver's injuries aren't life-threatening.

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2:05 P.M.

Video taken by a surveillance camera at a New York gas station shows a car traveling the wrong direction on a service road minutes before a wrong-way crash on an adjacent highway killed one off-duty New Jersey police officer and critically injured two others.

New York Police Department spokeswoman Kim Royster says the officers' car was traveling the wrong way, and a fourth man in their vehicle died. The driver of the truck they hit had non-life-threatening injuries.

A southbound exit ramp leads from the highway onto the service road.

Gas station attendant Ramzi Abdelhaq tells WABC-TV he's seen cars traveling the wrong direction on the service road before.

The video's time stamp reads 4:48 a.m. Police received a 911 call of a crash on the highway at 4:51 a.m.

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1:20 P.M.

The New York Police Department says investigators have determined three New Jersey off-duty officers were at a strip club before their vehicle was involved in a deadly head-on crash with a truck.

Deputy Chief Kim Royster says the men were at the Curves strip club before the Staten Island crash Friday morning. She says detectives are going to review video footage and interview patrons and employees to learn whether any of the men had been drinking.

Royster says the 27-year-old officer who was driving is in critical condition. A 28-year-old civilian passenger died at the scene.

She says the 28-year-old officer in the right rear passenger seat died at a hospital and the 23-year-old officer in the left rear passenger seat is critically hurt.

The truck driver had non-life-threatening injuries.

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11:55 A.M.

Flags have been lowered to half-staff outside a City Hall in New Jersey after a wrong-way crash that left an off-duty police officer and civilian dead and two other officers critically injured.

The flags lowered Friday morning in front of Linden City Hall are part of a war memorial surrounded by smaller American flags.

The New York Police Department says a car carrying four people was traveling in the wrong direction when it smashed into a truck on Staten Island. The truck driver suffered injuries that weren't considered life-threatening.

A bartender who grew up in Linden and has lived here most his life called the crash "devastating." He says: "The police in Linden are looked at very, very highly. They're very well-respected in our town."

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11:20 A.M.

A New Jersey police captain says a chaplain and grief counselors are at police headquarters after an off-duty officer died and two others were left critically injured in a wrong-way crash in New York City.

Linden police Capt. James Sarnicki says the city's mayor and police chief are visiting them at Staten Island hospitals Friday morning. A fourth person in the car was a civilian, and he also died.

Sarnicki says the officers involved in the 5 a.m. crash are men in their 20s. They have been on the police force for less than 10 years.

The New York Police Department says the officers' car was traveling in the wrong direction when it hit a truck. The truck driver was treated at a hospital for injuries that weren't considered to be life-threatening.

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10:30 A.M.

The New York Police Department says a car carrying three off-duty New Jersey police officers was driving the wrong-way when it struck a truck on Staten Island.

The crash happened early Friday on the West Shore Expressway.

Police say the car was carrying four people, including the three off-duty Linden Police Department officers, when it crashed into a truck at about 5 a.m. A fourth person in the car also died.

The truck driver was treated at a hospital for injuries that weren't considered to be life-threatening.

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10:10 A.M.

A New Jersey mayor says a wrong-way crash in New York City has left one off-duty police officer dead and two others critically injured.

The New York Police Department says the crash early Friday in Staten Island was between a truck and a car carrying four people, including the three officers. The fourth person in the car also died.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead tells local media outlets Friday that the three officers worked in the Linden Police Department.

The identity of the fourth person in the car isn't clear.

The NYPD says the truck was southbound on the West Shore Expressway when the vehicles crashed head-on just before 5 a.m.

The truck driver was treated at a hospital for injuries that weren't considered to be life-threatening.