The close call unfolded on I-80 in Allamuchy Township, New Jersey, back on February 23. New Jersey State Troopers and first responders were at the scene of a previous accident when a heavy duty tow truck transporting a box truck careened towards the closed 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 towards him.
“It was just a matter of seconds where I realised 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.
State Trooper of New Jersey Marcus Scheffer remarked, “The firefighters are running for their lives.” You have other individuals running.
Believing Trooper Lentini had been struck, NJ State Trooper Devry Mariano jumped into action.
“It came into my head, ‘Oh no. A fellow soldier. He is located there. I have to get to him.’ Because in my mind he had already been struck. Or worse,” Trooper Mariano said.
Trooper Lentini escaped unharmed, and no serious injuries were reported.
“By the grace of God, everyone was attentive,” Trooper Lentini stated. We are all extremely fortunate that no one was injured or killed on that night.
The ambulance was damaged while three state police vehicles were destroyed.
Trooper Lentini remarked that the area appeared to be a war zone.
Officials stated that the accident underscored the significance of New Jersey’s “Move Over” law, which requires drivers to slow down and move over to avoid first responders and other emergency crews working along roadways.
In 2010, NJ State Trooper Mark Castellano was killed by a driver on Interstate 95, and in 2016, NJ State Trooper Sean Cullen was killed by a car while responding to a car fire on Interstate 295. In both collisions, the drivers were in violation of the Move Over law.
Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, stated, “A violation of a seemingly simple law can result in a tragedy that we sometimes relive every day.”
The State Police continue to investigate the accident from last month. The tow truck driver was issued a citation for driving recklessly.