In the wake of a scary car accident on an Evesham Township highway, the Voorhees Police Department is examining its police pursuit policy.
According to law enforcement, James C. Fitzpatrick was responsible for the police chase. The pursuit reportedly began around noon on Route 73 North in Voorhees Township, NJ. (Although there is actually a dispute among local police departments about whether the police chase started in Evesham or Voorhees, it was close enough to the border separating the two townships that it may not matter.)
A Voorhees patrol cop reportedly spotted Fitzpatrick driving a vehicle with a broken tail light. The Voorhees police officer turned on his flashing lights and tried to pull over the car, but Fitzpatrick allegedly hit the gas pedal and sped up. Fitzpatrick then reportedly passed several other cars by driving on the shoulder of the highway.
Approximately one mile away from where the chase began, Fitzpatrick passed through the highway’s intersection with Evesham Road and collided with a Mazda CX9. The collision set off a chain reaction, with a total of seven cars crashing into each other. Two of those cars, including Fitzpatrick’s vehicle, were pushed over the median and subsequently rolled over. Additionally, the suspect’s car collided with a car while spinning on its roof and caught fire.
Immediately after the crash, the suspect got out of his car and allegedly tried to flee the scene on foot. Voorhees NJ cops quickly chased down Fitzpatrick and placed him under arrest.
At least 17 people sustained injuries as a result of the motor vehicle accident, with some of the injured motorists requiring medical treatment at a local hospital. Fortunately, none of the accident-related injuries were catastrophic and everyone involved in the car crash was okay.
Criminal Charges Against Beverly NJ Man Accused of Starting Police Chase
Fitzpatrick, a 46-year-old Beverly NJ resident, allegedly has a history of leading police on dangerous high-speed pursuits throughout Camden County, New Jersey. Moreover, Fitzpatrick’s license was reportedly suspended. Voorhees police learned about the earlier traffic incidents after arresting Fitzpatrick.
The suspect has been charged with numerous crimes, including 27 counts of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, 18 counts of driving while suspended, nine counts of resisting arrest by flight, nine counts of eluding law enforcement, nine counts of obstruction of justice, nine counts of providing false information to police, and at least one count of robbery.
After being arrested and processed, the suspect was remanded to the Camden County Jail in Camden, New Jersey. He was being held at the jail in lieu of a $178K bond.
Police Pursuits Can Cause Serious Auto Accidents
One of motorists who was involved in the Route 73 multi-car collision was a 37-year-old woman from Cherry Hill, NJ. She later described the multi-car pileup as something straight out of an action movie like The Fast and the Furious. Moreover, she did not realize that the police chase was happening until it was too late. The Cherry Hill resident spoke to the media and said that she saw “flashing lights coming in the distance in the opposite direction,” but she still could not avoid impact.
Police pursuits can pose major safety risks to motorists, especially on highways because vehicles are already traveling at extremely high speeds. As a result of these dangers, police departments in Camden County have policies about when patrol officers should call off their pursuits. For instance, the Voorhees Police Department policy stipulates that officers should pursue a suspect only when the suspect “poses an immediate threat to the safety of the public or other police officers.” The problem, of course, is that these kinds of police pursuits can endanger the public by increasing the likelihood of a serious accident.
If you were injured in a car accident in New Jersey, you should talk with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible. The experienced personal injury lawyers at Brenner Spiller & Archer can help you with your case. Contact us anytime to schedule a free initial consultation.