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May  11

Accident Or Foul Play?

Cbscarolyn Update: CBS news identified the victim of this story as Carolyn Everson and has an exclusive interview with her here

A tipster heard about a Montclair mom being taken to the hospital on the 11 o'clock news last night, and we found a report of the the scary events buried in today's NY Times:

An object that fell off a highway overpass broke the windshield of a car on a highway in Orange last night, slightly injuring the driver, the New Jersey State Police said.  Investigators have not determined whether the object, which was not recovered, was thrown or if it fell off the overpass of Interstate 280.  The victim, who lives in Montclair, was driving her Volkswagen Jetta near Exit 11B around 8:45 p.m. when the object pierced the windshield, and pieces of glass cut her face.  The woman who was able to stop the car safely, was taken to St. Barnabas Hospital in Livingston.  While reports of objectos falling off overpasses are now rare, a State Police spokesman said that officers had received them daily before fences were put up on the overpasses a few years ago.

May 11, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (10)

Smoke, But No Fire

GrpoliceIn case you wondered what all the fire engine activity was at the corner of Ridgewood and Watchung in Glen Ridge this morning, Captain Byron of the GRPD said that an officer at the scene of an accident noticed smoke coming from the vents of his patrol car, and the fire department was called to assist. The officer believes the smoke was caused by an electrical problem.  Photo courtesy of Warren Levinson -- 9:30 am --

May 11, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (2)

Bloomfield Ave Traffic Nightmare

VanfireA tipster calls in to alert us that downtown Montclair, from Church Street and Bloomfield Ave and going east a couple blocks is currently closed off with a ton of police presence. We'll update as soon as we know more...

Update: 9:47 a.m.
Deputy Chief Perry Mayers tells us that a moving van, just packed up with a Wayside St. resident's personal belongings, caught fire . The tractor trailor and it entire contents were destroyed.  The van driver stopped after motorists started honking and pointing to the top of the van which was ablaze. The driver disconnected the trailor from the cab at Bloomfield and Gates.  The fire department appearedon the scene to extinguish the fire, blocking all lanes of Bloomfield Ave. After 20 minutes, westbound lanes were cleared and now one eastbound lane is open.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

May 11, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (12)

daily dish

May  10

More on Yesterday's GSP Smashup

Today's New York Times details the crash that snarled traffic so badly on the Garden State Parkway during last evening's rush hour:

Seven people were ejected and four of them critically injured when a van carrying nine people flipped over on the Garden State Parkway yesterday afternoon, the New Jersey State Police said.

The accident occurred near Exit 153 near Clifton, N.J.

The van was returning to the North Jersey Developmental Center in Totowa from an outing at Sandy Hook, officials said. In the van were four men, all 18 or 19 years old, who lived at the center; four staff members, including the driver; and a physical therapist under contract to the agency, the police said.

Only two people in the van, both in the front seat, wore seatbelts and they were the only passengers not thrown onto the parkway during the accident.

May 10, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (0)

daily dish

May   9

Homeless Man Found Dead In Bloomfield

A homeless man was found dead Sunday morning at 9 a.m. at the Bloomfield Green.  Police identified the man as Raymond Szczesny, 50, of Bloomfield.  He was found sitting on the ground, leaning on a park bench, an empty bottle of vodka nearby, said Captain Michael Behre of the Bloomfield Police.  He said that Szczesny was well known to police officers, that he was "a big drinker" who had recently taken to hanging around the Green. The homeless man had asked police to take him to the hospital several times in the past few months due to intoxication.  Captain Behre said officers responded to a call, found the lifeless man, and called the paramedics who were unable to revive him. There was no evidence of foul play. Police were unable to locate any of Szczesny's family members.

The grim scene was witnessed by a reader who sent us a description of the scene and her reflections.

A man died on a bench at the Bloomfield Green today. And there was a fire at one of the apartment houses right in the heart of the historic area near Bloomfield College.  His body was covered with a white blanket- only his sneakered feet were visible.   I assume that it was a man-by the size of the sneakers.  I could be wrong. There were 3 patrol cars and several policemen who seemed to be waiting for a body pick up and anxious to go on with the rest of their day.  It was cold last night and I wonder how the man died.  Was he cold? Did he starve?  How did he live?  Did he fight in the war?  Why did he die alone? Was he evil? Did he want his privacy?  Was the park bench his resting place of choice? Will anyone be called to claim his body?  Was he a Dad? Maybe a deadbeat Dad. Possibly a favorite brother. I have 2 brothers.  He was someone's son.  I have 2 sons.  What will be their fate? Would I have given him a second thought if he were sitting on the bench alive?

I asked another dog- walker who surmised that he was probably a homeless guy.

So Yao, my very large poodle and I continued to walk.  Did not want to seem nosey.  But I did want to stay –keep him company while the policemen sipped their coffee, chatting and distancing themselves from the man.  I really wanted to see his face.  Yao, I am sure would have sniffed him.   

I was too embarrassed to linger. I moved on to the other end of the Green where a small crowd gathered around the fire engines chatting about the fire, hypothesizing about whose apartment and the nature of the blaze.  A homeless looking woman was smoking on a bench nearby.  She had red lipstick smeared well over her lip line and she clutched a ratty makeshift pocketbook.  She had tired blue eyes and smiled at Yao. She said he looked like a gentle soul.  I seized the opportunity and asked about the dead man.  "Honey" she snarled, "it's time for you to move on--go about your business". Yao and I walked back past the police cars.  I was insulted and embarrassed by my morbid curiosity.   

I am not sure what happened with the apartment fire or the lady with the smeared lipstick I do know that someone's child died alone on a bench at the Historic Green on a beautiful spring morning in May.  And that I need to move on.   

May 9, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (70)

daily dish

May   8

This Just In...

Anonymous, unconfirmed tip...

as I write this, BHS students are outside at their "safe havens" due to a bomb scare evacuation.  The kids don't know why they're outside -- over PA system came announcement to stop what you're doing and get out now.  No explanation.  Talked to one on the cell phone - he has no idea why they are out.  I spoke to a BOE member, that's how I know it's a bomb scare.

May 8, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (36)

daily dish

May   4

Fatal Accident In Bloomfield

Baristanet was saddened to hear about the tragic death of Kenny Sanchez, a 20 year old Bloomfield resident, killed in a motorcycle crash on Tuesday. Captain Michael Behre, of the Bloomfield Police Department, confirmed that  May 2, at approximately 4:55 p.m., Kenny lost control of his motorcycle while traveling westbound on Watchung Avenue.  He crashed into the wall of a private residence in the vicinity of 283 Watchung Avenue, and suffered severe trauma to the head.  He was wearing a helmet. Paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene of the accident.

The incident is under investigation by Bloomfield Police's Traffic Bureau and the Essex County Prosecutor's Office.  Captain Behre also told us that this is the second loss for Bloomfield High's class of 2003.  Last June, a fellow classmate was killed in a fatal accident on the Parkway.

May 4, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (10)

daily dish

April  26

Oops Doesn't Begin to Cover It

Oops_2 A bar in the Watsessing neighborhood of Bloomfield was the scene of a murder early last Saturday morning, when a fight that erupted during a private birthday party turned deadly. Police have identified the victim as Newark resident Gerald Thorne, 22.

Bloomfield police Capt. Michael Behre said the victim was a guest at the private party, that several shots were fired, that the shooting took place outside and that no one else was injured. "It could have happened in any town," he said. An investigation is ongoing.

The unfortunately-named Oops is located at 7 Watsessing Ave., just a few blocks from the Home Depot and Titillations Men's Club.

April 26, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (26)

daily dish

April  18

Judge in Murder Case Was Neighbor of Defendant

Verona_map_2 Judge Donald Volkert's decision yesterday to lift house arrest restrictions on Verona resident and accused murderer Herbert Maisenbacher has many in the neighborhood virtually hysterical, and a new revelation came out today too: that the judge once lived just a couple of blocks away from the defendant.

Last night, phones were ringing overtime in the township of just 14,000 people, which is located just west of Montclair, and where the accused murderer of Joan Galligan was known as "Herbie" to many residents, particularly old-timers with grown children.

"The judge's ex-wife and children were very close to mutual friends of the Maisenbachers," a tipster told us. "I think he should have recused himself."

Judge Patricia Costello, who makes assignments for Essex County superior court, after checking out the story, called it "ancient history" and noted that Judge Volkert lived in Verona about two decades ago. "He doesn't know him," Costello said. Even if the two men's paths might have overlapped, she pointed out that Verona is "a small town with a limited number of schools and churches and it really doesn't resonate to me."

Judge Volkert referred the matter to the prosecutor, who was not in.

Verona residents' emotions, as reported by our source and as evidence on NJ.com's Verona Forum, run from scared to confused to angry.

I know I know, Innocent till Proven Guilty, but...

by QuietWatcher, 4/14/06 11:08 ET
Re: Word on the street is by pattyboy, 4/14/06

but it still concerns me...and I so feel for his family... having to deal with this. I think knowing the DNA was a match says it all... Since we're neighbors and the children are always playing and riding bikes on the street and now that it's been headlined on the front page of the VCGTimes, I had no choice but to sit my little ones down and carefully explain the situation... My youngest later asked me "Mommy, is she a murderer too?" and I thought to myself... my God, I never thought in all these years in Verona that we would have to deal with something of this magnitude in our little town...

Others on the NJ.com board were scandalized by a look that someone thought the defendant's wife gave to the victim's daughter at yesterday's arraignment. One poster accused fellow board members of forming a virtual lynch mob:

So you think you saw his wife "look" at the victim's daughter funny. You THINK you heard her say something about her. But you have NO IDEA about the context or history of either action. It is clear that you have immediately assumed the role of "animal". Just by condemning the woman for loving and supporting her spouse. You have no idea about the history here.

I don't know the guy (or his wife) one way or another. But from the sounds of it, we might half expect to see you and your friends show up at the defendants house with lit torches and a length of rope.

Hop aboard the lynch-mob bandwagon folks!

Joan Galligan, the murder victim, lived in Astor Place in Glen Ridge and was a longtime family friend and business associate of the accused. She was murdered on December 7.

April 18, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (166)

daily dish

April  17

Murder Suspect No Longer Under House Arrest

Herbert Maisenbacher, the Verona resident accused of murdering Joan Galligan in Glen Ridge on December 7, entered a not-guilty plea in court this morning. Meanwhile, the requirement that he be confined to his house, originally set as a condition of his $250,000 cash bail, was lifted.

Galligan's daughter, Kimberly Cicala, shook her head and sighed audibly when she heard that Maisenbacher, who wore a suit to court, would no longer be subject to house arrest. "It's very disappointing," she said afterwards. "He's an alleged murderer. He resides in a residential neighborhod. I live a few towns over and it makes me extremely nervous. I have a genuine concern."

Judge Donald Volkert reiterated that there was to be no contact between Maisenbacher and the victim's family -- either in person or "by phone, by mail, by fax."

In the hallway after the arraignment, Cicala conducted an impromptu news conference in front of a throng of reporters, representing the New York Times, the Glen Ridge Voice, Channel 2 News, Baristanet and others.

"Today was a very difficult day," said Cicala, who said she had "very mixed feelings, mainly bad. It's sadness and it's deeper."

Asked whether Maisenbacher had ever tried to contact her since her mother's December 7 murder, Cicala said there had been only one communication. She received flowers from his family at her mother's wake -- although the Maisenbacher family did not attend. That in itself was very strange, Cicala acknowledged, considering that the Maisenbachers had been friends with Galligan's family for 25 years. "People flew in from all over the country," Cicala said.

April 17, 2006 in Sirens | Permalink | Comments (36)

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