New Jersey

NJ Cop in Fatal Wrong-Way Crash Wrecked Patrol Car in 2009

The New Jersey police officer who hit a tractor-trailer head-on on a Staten Island highway last week, killing a fellow officer and friend and critically injuring a third cop, had wrecked his patrol car while on duty in at least one other accident, NBC 4 New York has learned.

According to a police report, Linden Police Officer Pedro Abad had crashed his police cruiser while responding to a call near the town's border with Roselle in August 2009. 

Abad was injured in the crash but was not ticketed. The driver of the other car was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

Abad is currently in critical condition following the crash early Friday on the West Shore Expressway, which killed fellow Linden officer Frank Viggiano and friend Joseph Rodriguez. Patrik Kudlac, also a Linden cop riding in Abad's Honda, is also in critical condition.

A funeral was held for Viggiano on Thursday; Rodriguez's body was laid to rest the day before.

Authorities say that Abad was driving his fellow officers and friend on the wrong side of the expressway on the way back from a strip club when his vehicle slammed into the tractor-trailer. Authorities obtained a warrant to test Abad's blood-alcohol content following the crash, but the results haven't yet been made available.

Records show that Abad had been involved in seven other wrecks and had been twice arrested on drunken driving charges.

Following a 2013 crash in Rahway, Abad had his driver's license suspended for eight months after pleading guilty to driving under the influence. He later had to install an alcohol interlink system in his car for 180 days, but was cleared to drive without restriction in September 2014.

Dashcam video from Abad's arrest shows the man slurring his speech, struggling to stand and failing a field sobriety test during the stop in Rahway.

Abad was also been arrested for DUI in Roselle in 2011, but prosecutors later dropped the charges. reports that according to a police report from that crash, on Jan. 22, 2011, the Audi A5 Abad was driving punched through a small convenience store. When the reporting officer arrived, Abad was sitting in the driver's seat with a bloody nose and there were Linden and Union County police officers at the scene. 

The report says that officers and firefighters noticed the smell of alcohol on Abad, and that an officer went to the hospital with him to have a blood-alcohol test performed. The results of that test weren't available, reports.

He also crashed his car three times in Linden, once more in Roselle and once each in Montclair and Holmdel, records show. In one crash, he was cited for using a cellphone while driving.

Linden Mayor Derek Armstead said  his office has been in discussions with the Union County Prosecutor's Office about a possible probe of how the police department handled Abad's drunk-driving cases.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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