Investigation continues into New Jersey wrong-way crash

By Clarissa Hawes, Land Line staff writer | Friday, April 03, 2015

The investigation is ongoing into the off-duty driving history of a Linden, N.J., police officer, who was behind the wheel in a fatal wrong-way crash in Staten Island, N.Y. Two people were killed and three others were injured in the crash on March 20.

Linden Police Officer Pedro Abad, 27, who was off-duty at the time of the fatal crash, turned his Honda Civic the wrong way onto West Shore Expressway, crashing into a tractor-trailer, after leaving a strip club around 5 a.m. on March 20.

According to NJ.com, Abad, who is a six-year veteran of the Linden Police Department, has been involved in “eight accidents prior to the March 20 crash, including two where he was charged with drunk-driving.”

In 2013, Abad was charged with driving under the influence, which led to his driver’s license being suspended temporarily. According to the news outlet, a judge also required him to install an ignition-interlock device on his car until September 2014. In 2011, Abad crashed his car through the wall of a supermarket and was charged with driving under the influence, but a judge later dropped the charges against him.

Several hours prior to the head-on collision on March 20, Abad posted a photo on his Instagram page of three shot glasses filled with “Jack Daniels Fire on the house.”

Abad, along with Patrik Kudlac, 23, a fellow Linden police officer, remain in critical condition. Another Linden police officer, Frank Viggiano, 28, and Joe Rodriguez, 28, a passenger in the car, were both killed. The 33-year-old truck driver, who worked for Snavely’s Mill, a Pennsylvania-based company, was taken to an area hospital and later released.

To avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest NJ.com states “the investigation into Abad’s driving and employment will be handled by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office rather than the Union County Prosecutor’s Office which normally oversees criminal matters in Linden.”

A spokesman with the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office confirmed his office will be handling the ongoing investigation.

“The investigation is active and is continuing, but there will be no other comment at this time,” James O’Neill, public information officer for Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office,” told Land Line on April 1.

Detective Martin Speechley, a New York Police Department spokesman, told Land Line recently that investigators are awaiting the results of Abad’s blood alcohol test.

“I don’t think there will be any updates at this point, unless when the blood alcohol (results) comes back there is a reason to move forward with prosecution,” he said.

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