New Jersey

‘Confused' Driver of Van Carrying Special-Needs Adults Plows Straight Into House: Police

A van transporting adults with special needs from a community service center in New Jersey plowed into a nearby house when the driver got momentarily confused about which way to turn, authorities say. 

The van was pulling out from ARC Community Services of Bergen and Passaic Counties in Fair Lawn Monday morning when the 28-year-old driver got confused about whether to turn right or left, and drove straight into the front of a house at Zink Place and 17th Street, according to Fair Lawn Police Sgt. Brian Metzler.

The impact lifted the back end of the van to the side, getting it stuck between the house and a telephone pole. 

EMS removed two special-needs adults from inside the van, and took them to local hositals. The driver and an aide, a 27-year-old woman, were both taken to Hackensack University Medical Center with head and neck injuries. 

None of the injuries was considered life threatening. 

No one was in the home at the time of the crash. The house was deemed uninhabitable but not in danger of collapse. 

Ometa Pope, the director of adult training services at ARC, rushed across the street when the crash happened and comforted the two special-needs passengers as they were removed from the van, hugging them.

"I'm just glad that they're out," she told News 4. 

"It's upsetting. They can't tell us where the pain us. But we can just tell from their facial expression, they were happy to see us, that we were out here," she said. 

Pope said the van was headed to a volunteer site for a community outing. She said the center will conduct its investigation into the crash.

She said all the staff is trained "very well" and the two staff members in the van were screened and vetted, and both experienced. 

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