‘Fatal accident’ staged as lesson for mentoring program

A day before the Queen City Mentoring Academy would graduate its new class of cadets, the Plainfield Police Department staged a distracted-driver accident.

As the program’s five charter buses drove towards Hubbard Middle School, sirens were blaring and a single officer was darting to the scene of a “wrecked” vehicle, quickly assessing the “accident.”

An unmarked police vehicle sped towards the scene, then came local EMS workers, screeching down the street from both directions. Plainfield Fire Department Truck 3 was next to arrive.

The workers cut away at the “demolished” car that “struck” a large tree just outside of the local school. First responders removed two bloodied passengers, taking the victims away on stretchers as the children watched in awe. One of the passengers was “killed” at the scene. Some of the Queen City kids were moved to tears by the shocking event, which is designed to teach the cadets about the dangers of distracted driving.

This year marks the fourth annual Plainfield Police Department’s Queen City Mentoring Academy, a summer day camp for children entering the 5th through 8th grades. The three-week mentorship program started in the summer of 2014, and is designed to educate its participants about county government, the judiciary, emergency services and law enforcement.

This year’s program includes 60 cadets, and 15 junior mentors — program alumni who help facilitate the camp.

Read the entire NJ.com article here. Originally published on July 29, 2017.

Photos by Patti Sapone for NJ Advance Media and NJ.com.


Heavy rain and wind causes flooding in Shore towns

Heavy rain slammed New Jersey’s Eastern seaboard last night and continued into the early morning hours, causing flash floods in a handful of Shore towns.

Wildwood was one the hardest hit, according to CBSPhilly.

Zeke Orzech, a self proclaimed storm lover and chaser, began tweeting about the storm and flash floods affecting Avalon around 5 a.m. on Saturday.

According to the National Weather Service, the remainder of the flash flood watch has been cancelled as of 9:30 a.m. While additional showers are expected, the threat for widespread heavy rain and flooding has ended, the update stated.

Between 6 p.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. Sunday, showers will gradually taper off over the southern portions of the forecast area.

Wildwood Crest received 5.03 inches of rain, which was the most rainfall in Cape May County. Ocean City got about 3.85 inches, and caused some local flash flooding.

The National Weather Service said a gale warning has been issued for Lower Delaware Bay based on observational trends, and will remain in effect until 2 a.m. on Sunday.

Along the coast, northeast winds will run 13 to 16 mph but farther south they will be as high as 18 to 23, increasing to 24 to 29 mph in the afternoon. Those winds could gust as high as 39 mph, the weather service says.

Originally published on July 29, 2017 at NJ.com.

Police arrest 3 suspects for armed robbery

Three men were arrested for armed robbery after exiting the Wells Fargo building on the corner of Smith and Maple streets on Friday afternoon, authorities said.

Perth Amboy spokeswoman Noelia Colon said the incident did not take place in the bank itself, but that the building has additional commercial space above the bank.

A 911 call was placed by the alleged victim at 2:11 p.m. Perth Amboy Police apprehended two of the suspects as they exited the building. The third suspect was arrested shortly after a brief foot chase, according to police.

Police searched the area and said they retrieved the stolen goods, including cash and other items. The Perth Amboy K-9 unit was used to retrieve the loaded weapon, according to police accounts.

A Perth Amboy Fire Department truck was parked at the corner of Maple Street and Jefferson Court and its ladder was extended to the roof of the building at 319 Maple St., for about an hour after the incident.

Originally published on July 28, 2017 at NJ.com.

NJ Transit train-car accident kills one, delays service

A car accident involving a single vehicle and a NJ Transit train has left one person dead.

The 7232 train running on the North Jersey Coast Line route bound for New York City struck a car at the Bethany Road crossing in Hazlet at 12:32 p.m. Service between Hazlet and Long Branch was temporarily suspended in both directions.

Penny Bassett, spokesperson for NJ Transit, said the person killed is believed to be the driver of the vehicle.

The driver was a 90-year-old man who drove around the railroad gates and was struck by the train, according to a press release.

Bassett said 145 passengers were aboard the train at the time of the accident, but no one was injured.

NJ Transit is looking to create a bus bridge between Hazlet and Long Branch, but that effort has been delayed because of heavy traffic in the area, Bassett said.

The vehicle was lodged under the train and caused a temporary stop in service between the two stations. Passengers may experience delays up to an hour in both directions due to the accident, according to NJ Transit.

Originally published on July 22, 2017.

Shooting death of 38-year-old mom leaves family with few answers

Desiree Alvarado’s giving nature is providing her 21-year-old daughter the strength to carry on.

“She had a big heart,” said Dezirae Alvarado. “If you ask anybody, they don’t have anything bad to say about her.”

“She was the backbone, she held our family together,” said Dezirae. “She was our glue.”

Alvarado, 38, was shot last Friday on a New Brunswick street in broad daylight. She died at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Tuesday evening. Christian Cortes, 25, of North Brunswick, was arrested shortly after the shooting.

Alvarado was a mother of four, Dezirae, Manuel, 18; Joshua, 12; and Victoria, 10.

Magdalena Morales, Alvarado’s mother, was at the family home at the time of shooting. When Morales heard the gunshots, she ran to the window and saw her daughter walking up their driveway clutching her neck.

Neighbors told the family, as Alvarado walked to her car she was approached by a man and shot twice. Alvarado was simply going to pick up a friend and run some errands, Morales said.

Cortes, 25, of North Brunswick, has been charged with first-degree murder, one count of unlawful possession of a weapon in the second degree and one count of possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes in the second degree, according to authorities.

Read the entire NJ.com article here.

Originally published on July 22, 2017.

Shore eatery sues township over ‘loud talking’ restrictions

The owner of Tommy’s Tavern + Tap has filed a civil lawsuit against Sea Bright Township over the city’s revised noise ordinance.

The complaint alleges that the city’s new ordinance is “arbitrary, unreasonable, capricious and illegal,” according to the document filed by attorney Robert F. Munoz, who said he could not comment on a pending case.

The two limited liability companies, 1030 Partners and 1030 Liquor Partners, that manage Tommy’s Tavern and its managing partner Thomas Bonfiglio filed the complaint on May 18.

Sea Bright’s former noise law was repealed on July, 5 2016; its current law was adopted on April 4.

The suit lists multiple complaints against the city including, the new ordinance doesn’t explain what decibel level is unacceptable and the ordinance fails to provide training to individuals tasked with curbing excessive noise. The suit also points out people who violate the “ambiguous” restriction four or more times could face up to 90 days in jail.

“Loud talking” and “other continuous noise” emanating from any source can be considered in violation of the town’s new statute, the suit stated.

“The borough, through the adoption of its noise ordinance substantially destroys plaintiffs’ beneficial use of the property by the threat of imposing excessive fines, and even imprisonment, for violations of the noise ordinance,” the suit stated.

Read the entire NJ.com article here.

Originally published on July 20, 2017.

Survival tips for Day One of N.J.’s summer of commuting hell

NJ Transit will divert Morris & Essex lines trains that would regularly go to New York Penn Station to Hoboken Terminal as Amtrak starts a massive track project in New York on Monday, NJ.com reported on July 10. On the first day of the “summer from hell,” an army of reporters braved the commute with workers and tourists traveling into the City.

What a find: Museum discovers lost wines almost as old as the country itself

A restoration project at Liberty Hall Museum’s wine cellar unearthed spirits 221 years old that had been shipped to the sleepy Elizabethtown cottage shortly after the American Revolution.

During the six-month revamp, the museum discovered almost three cases of Madeira wine from 1796 and about 42 demijohns from the 1820s.

Some of the original Madeira stock was shipped to the second generation who lived at Liberty Hall, in anticipation of John Adams’ presidency. Although Liberty Hall President John Kean was well aware of the wine collection, he couldn’t have imagined its historical significance.

“We knew there was a lot of liquor down here, but we had no idea as to the age of it,” said Kean, first cousin to New Jersey’s former governor. “I think the most exciting part of it was to find liquor, or Madeira in this case, that goes back so far. And then trying to trace why it was here and who owned it.”

Read the entire NJ.com article here.

Originally published on July 9, 2017.