A Hudson County corrections officer has been arrested in the hit-and-run that killed a longtime friend of Gov. Christie and an elderly woman in New Jersey Sunday night, officials say.
The officer, 38-year-old Michael Hansen, was taken into custody shortly before 4 a.m. Monday, about eight hours after he allegedly hit 57-year-old Russell Maffei and 80-year-old Marie Tauro near the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Paterson Plank Road in North Bergen.
The victims, who are well known in Jersey City for their work in politics, were doing campaign work near the Coachhouse Diner in North Bergen when they were hit, authorities said.
Witnesses had said the two victims were hit so hard they were knocked out of their shoes. They were taken to a hospital and died about two and a half hours after being struck.
Authorities determined the vehicle suspected in the hit-and-run belonged to Hansen and arrested him on charges of leaving the scene of a fatal accident and resisting arrest. A law enforcement source told News 4 that a SWAT team found him passed out at a home in North Bergen, where he was staying with family.
The investigation is ongoing. Information on an attorney for Hansen wasn't immediately available.
Maffei was the chairman of the Jersey City Republican Party, and Mauro was seeking the nomination for a state Assembly seat in the 31st district. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said the two were passionate about politics and were relentless trying to get Republicans elected in a mostly Democratic county.
"Both great people, both people that Jersey City and their community, and both people that are going to be missed," Fulop said.
Christie also issued a statement Monday afternoon offering condolences to the families of both victims.
"Russ was a dear friend who I had known for many years and who I could always rely upon," the statement said. "As the full details of this tragedy continue to unfold, Mary Pat and I want the families and friends of both Russ and Marie to know that we will do all we can to make sure that justice is done. The victims and their loved ones are in our thoughts and prayers."
Hansen is being held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility, where he worked as a corrections officer. He's expected to face a judge Tuesday.