Two juveniles were sentenced to time in a juvenile detention facility and probation after admitting to starting a fire in a culvert beneath the Garden State Parkway in January 2022, which caused a 10-hour closure in both directions.
The teens, both from Brick, were charged the following day, on January 20, after the New Jersey Turnpike Authority Board of Commissioners authorised $3.5 million in emergency repairs to the Exit 91 area. The State Police discovered that a fire had been started in a drainage culvert beneath the Parkway, between the Exit 91 north entrance ramp and the Exit 91 south exit ramp.
The liner inside a 300-foot-long, 66-inch reinforced concrete culvert pipe was destroyed by the fire, according to the NJTA Board of Commissioners.
A connecting stormwater drainage system and treatment devices were also “significantly damaged,” as were portions of the culvert’s original surface.
During the investigation, detectives discovered that the same youths had also broken into a New Jersey Turnpike Authority building adjacent to the Parkway 91 north commuter lot.
Christmas Tree Used to Set Fire
Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer of Ocean County stated that the teens admitted to setting a Christmas tree on fire in a culvert in late 2022 and were sentenced to sixty days in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center and three years of probation.
In addition, they must pay $15,000 in restitution, perform 50 hours of community service, and attend and complete a firestarter education programme.
The announcement of the sentence was delayed due to a request by their attorneys to maintain their anonymity. The state intended to release their full names, but a judge ruled in February that only their initials, I.J. and A.R., could be used.