NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An off-duty New Jersey police officer behind the wheel of a car that crashed last week while heading the wrong way on a New York highway, killing two passengers, has had two drunken-driving arrests in the last four years, including one for an accident in which he plowed through the wall of a convenience store, records show.
Six-year Linden police veteran Pedro Abad Jr. was arrested on a charge of driving under the influence in Roselle in January 2011 after his car "put a hole completely through the building" housing a New Way Supermarket, a police report said. Abad was issued a summons for DUI and reckless driving, but apparently the case didn't conclude in any citations or violations, the state Motor Vehicle Commission said.
Thirteen months later, Abad was charged with DUI in Rahway. A police dashboard camera video showed him weaving, wobbling and slurring his words as he attempted to complete a field sobriety test.
Abad's driver's license was suspended after the second arrest, beginning in October 2013 and concluding in May 2014, the Motor Vehicle Commission said. A judge then required Abad to fit his car with an ignition interlock, which won't allow a vehicle to start until the driver blows into a device to measure his blood-alcohol level and is deemed sober. The interlock device was removed last September, the commission said.
Linden police wouldn't comment Thursday on their internal investigation into the Abad matter, nor would they say whether Abad had faced sanctions or restrictions under department guidelines as a result of his arrests.
The March 20 accident on the West Shore Expressway in Staten Island killed Linden police Officer Frank Viggiano and civilian Joseph Rodriguez and left Abad and fellow Officer Patrik Kudlac critically injured. A police spokesman said Abad and Kudlac remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition Thursday.
A telephone message left on a cellphone believed to be Abad's wasn't returned.
Outside Viggiano's funeral on Thursday, Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said prosecutors are investigating the police department's handling of Abad. A spokesman for the prosecutor's office didn't confirm or deny that an investigation was underway.