Officer behind wheel in fatal wrong-way crash had DUI in '13

AP News
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Posted: Mar 24, 2015 9:40 PM
Officer behind wheel in fatal wrong-way crash had DUI in '13

The off-duty New Jersey police officer who was behind the wheel during a wrong-way crash that killed another officer and a friend last week in New York City had previously had his driver's license suspended for driving under the influence, an official said Tuesday.

Linden Officer Pedro Abad Jr., had his license suspended for seven months starting in October 2013, said Elyse Coffey, spokeswoman for the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission.

The suspension stemmed from an accident in Rahway, New Jersey, in February of that year. A judge found he refused to submit to a chemical test and was also driving under the influence.

NJ.com posted police dash cam footage online Tuesday night (http://bit.ly/1HBW0gr) showing the 2013 arrest. In it, Abad is seen stumbling, slurring his words, unable to complete a sobriety test and asking for "Officer Webb," an officer on the scene, who he says knows him from "the academy."

His license was restored in March 2014, but he had to use an ignition lock until September 2014. Abad, who was hired as a police officer in 2008, was on the force at the time of the suspension. Linden police Capt. James Sarnicki said any discipline would be an internal personnel matter and would not be made public.

Abad was among four people in a car early Friday when he drove the wrong way on a Staten Island highway after a night at a New York strip club, crashing head-on into a tractor-trailer.

Hours before the crash, Abad had posted a photo on his Instagram page of three shot glasses filled with what he identified as "Jack Daniels Fire on the house." Investigators have applied for a warrant to test Abad's blood-alcohol level.

Officer Frank Viggiano and friend Joe Rodriguez — both 28 — died in the crash. Abad, 27, and 23-year-old Officer Patrik Kudlac were in critical but stable condition.

All three of the officers were off-duty at the time.

The truck driver suffered injuries that were not considered life-threatening.

New Jersey officials said there was one other violation on Abad's record. He was cited after a car accident for driving with a cellphone in August 2012.