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New Year Began With Several Car Wrecks, Big Power Outage

Second Time in 15 Months That Downed Power Pole Caused Outage at Nursing Home
Car Crash
This car crash caused problems with the power and water at Rose Mountain Care Center. New Brunswick Patch

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—The city's police and fire departments were busy on the first day of 2017, dealing with a slew of bad car crashes that thankfully left no one fatally injured.

Authorities had to respond to at least four crashes in the Hub City before sunrise on January 1, including one that knocked out power to a nursing home and the Raritan Gardens neighborhood.

At 6:02 am, Aaron McSweeney of East Brunswick allegedly was driving a white Toyota Tercel when he struck a utility pole on Route 1 knocking out power pole and a transformer near the interchange of Routes 1 and 18.

That meant that 2,200 electricity customers, including the Rose Mountain Rehabilitation & Care Center, started off the new year on a bad note.

One person interviewed by News12 NJ's Nadia Ramdass said that the nursing home had no electricity or water, raising concerns about the ability of staff to care for the residents.

"It's not such a happy new year" said the woman who was visiting someone at Rose Mountain.

It was the second time in fifteen months that a downed power pole near the care center caused power problems.

As the TV station reported in 2015, a downed power line at the very same intersection snagged a schoolbus in September 2015, and caused an outage at Rose Mountain

According to a police report published on the city website, McSweeney's blood alcohol level was found to be .12, .04 above the legal limit.  McSweeey was charged with driving while intoxicated, according to the report.

There is no "crash description/narrative" available in the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) report, at least as far as what was posted for the public.  That section only references, "See Page 2," which was not posted on the city website.

McSweeney suffered minor injuries but refused treatment, according to the News12 report, which did not name him.

Three hours earlier, the first crash of the new year occurred inside the New Brunswick Parking Authority's Church Street Parking Deck at about 3:02 am when Somerset resident Barry Wilson allegedly backed into another vehicle inside the deck.

According to a crash report posted on the city website, "Wilson first stated that he did not strike any vehicle, before during or while trying to leave the [deck]."

After cops pointed out "fresh damage" to Wilson's vehicle, he then stated "I probably did hit something," according to the report.

Wilson was charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report an accident, careless driving, failure to produce a valid driver's license, and improper backing.

While that was going on, the New Brunswick Police Department (NBPD) was also dispatched to the intersection of Hamilton and Easton Avenue at 3:55 am for a more serious, head-on collision.

No injuries were reported at the scene, but according to the emergency radio transmissions, gasoline had spilled onto the roadway.  

According to the NBPD crash report, a gold Ford Windstar minivan was driving in the wrong lane when it hit an oncoming vehicle.  The wrong-way driver then allegedly fled the scene down Hamilton Street towards College Avenue.

A witness at the scene provided police a video of the incident showing the license plate of the van, which helped police determine it was owned by Chris Lewis of South Bound Brook.

The report said that "multiple summonses" were issued to Lewis, but only one was listed on the report for "leaving the scene of the accident." 

About two hours after that crash, police arrested a drunk driver after they say he "struck a sign post and completely demolished a porch" before coming to a stop at 143 George Street.

The driver Kelvis Bonilla was arrested and faced charges including driving with a suspended license as well as other charges.  Bonilla was allegedly found passed out in the driver's seat of his car when police arrived, but he did not appear to be injured.

At 2:14 pm that afternoon, a vehicle that stopped in traffic on Landing Lane near George Street was struck from behind.

The driver behind told police "she attempted to stop but was unable to do so in time. No injuries or damages were reported. 

About 40 minutes later, another driver was struck when he was going northbound at a green light making a left turn at the intersection of College Avenue and Hamilton Street.

The second driver that struck him told police "she did not know if she had a green light."

Also on January, at least two parked vehicles were damaged, one of them in a hit-and-run.