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Overturned Garbage Truck Investigation Leads to DUI Arrest

Fairfield (NJ) The Fairfield Police Department announces the arrest of Robert Thompson (52) of Elmwood Park, N.J. for driving under the influence and assault by auto on January 4, 2022. On that date, at approximately 4:29 PM, the Fairfield Police Department received multiple 9-1-1 calls reporting a garbage truck that overturned on the Gately Overpass. The first arriving officer, Corporal Jeffrey Dean, found the garbage truck on its side. Thompson, who was the driver, and two other passengers were making there way out of the vehicle. It appears that the garbage truck, which is owned by Roselle Disposal of Fairfield, N.J. had just exited onto the Gately Overpass from Route 46 West, when Thompson lost control and the vehicle flipped on its side into the oncoming lane. Corporal Jeffrey Dean began the investigation. In speaking with Thompson, it is alleged that he displayed signs and symptoms consistent with an individual being under the influence to include the odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath, slurred speech, and bloodshot and watery eyes. As a result, field sobriety tests were conducted. It is also alleged that an open container of an alcoholic beverage was found in the area of the crash. Based upon the totality of the circumstances, Thompson was placed under arrest and transported to police headquarters for breath testing. While at headquarters, it is alleged that Thompson refused to provide samples of his breath. In addition to the assault by auto and driving under the influence charges, Thompson was charged with refusal to submit to a breath test and a variety of other motor vehicle summonses. Because Thompson possessed a commercial driver's license, he was also charged with driving under the influence and refusal to submit to a breath test under the commercial driver's license statute provisions. Thompson was eventually released on his own recognizance pending an initial hearing in the Superior Court in Essex County on March 3, 2022. The passengers of the garbage truck received minor injuries and were evaluated at the scene by EMS personnel from Atlantic Healthcare and the West Essex First Aid Squad. Both individuals refused any further medical attention. The Fairfield Fire Department assisted with cleaning up oil that was left on the roadway and stood by as the garbage truck was up righted and removed. The Gately Overpass, which has served more motorists than usual with the closing of the Hollywood Avenue Overpass for construction, remained closed to motorists for approximately three hours.

“Thankfully, no vehicles were coming in the opposite lane as I am relatively sure it would have resulted in a fatality” said Chief Anthony G. Manna.

(It should be noted that the charges against Thompson are merely allegations and that he is presumed innocent until he either pleads guilty or is found guilty in a court of law)

Authorized by: Chief Anthony Manna

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