Fair Haven, NJ, Fire Chief Wrecked Department Vehicle in Alleged Drunk Driving Accident

I’ve said it before, but perhaps it bears repeating: A drunk driving conviction can ruin your life, not only because of the social stigma, but also from the standpoint of getting a job, or keeping the one you currently have. As a New Jersey DWI defense attorney, I have spent many years on both sides of the aisle, first as a municipal drunk driving prosecutor and now as an advocate for those accused of driving while intoxicated.

While most people may feel that they won’t be caught while driving under the influence, it often happens that they themselves make things worse simply by getting behind the wheel in the first place. This apparently was the case for a local fire department official in Fair Haven, New Jersey.

According to news reports, the now former Fair Haven Fire Chief, Shaun Foley, drove his department vehicle into a telephone pole back on November 22 in Rumson, NJ. Following that crash another motorist crashed into the telephone pole and wires downed by Foley, who has been charged drunken driving.

Police say that that Foley attempted to flee the scene in his heavily damaged fire department SUV, which broke down about a block away from the crash right in front of Rumson’s Borough Hall.

According to news reports, the 27-year-old Foley, who has also worked as a Rumson police dispatcher and part-time policeman, then left his vehicle and traveled on foot to the Oceanic Bridge, a mile away, where he jumped into the Navesink River. This prompted a massive rescue effort involving helicopters and boats.

By taking down that utility pole, Foley reportedly knocked out electrical power to streetlights in the area. That, in turn, caused an Ocean Township man, Robert Walsh, to smash his car into the same downed utility pole. The report says Walsh told police he didn’t see the wreckage. The man was uninjured.

The initial crash was called in by a passing motorist. Calling in almost simultaneously was off-duty police Sergeant Peter Koenig, who lives nearby; he heard the crash, followed by the revving sound of an engine, the article reports. Koenig’s written account indicates that Foley’s vehicle wasn’t at the scene of the crash when he arrived. By then, the other motorist had already hit the downed pole.

Fleeing north on foot, Foley was spotted on the northern side of the Oceanic Bridge by Little Silver police officer Gregory Oliva, but he apparently ignored Oliva’s request that he get into the officer’s car. Instead, Foley jumped over the bridge’s western flank into the river.

Emergency service personnel from across the region, including a dive team from Fair Haven, eventually rescued Foley from the water beneath the bridge on the Rumson side, put him on a stretcher and administered medical aid. He was then read his Miranda rights in the ambulance by a Rumson officer, who rode with him to Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

Foley, who signed a consent form allowing two vials of blood to be drawn for alcohol content testing, was not seriously injured. He was charged with DWI, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to report and reckless driving. Surprisingly, Foley had reportedly crashed another fire department vehicle into a utility pole in Fair Haven back in March, 2008, but no charges were filed.

FOLEY’S WRECK CAUSED SECOND CRASH, RedBankGreen.com, December 3, 2009