JACKSON – Three young men from Philadelphia, Pa., were arrested after what police described initially as suspicious behavior turned into a high-speed pursuit and a single-vehicle crash on Route 537 on the evening of Oct. 4.
According to Jackson police, at 8:44 p.m. Oct. 4, officers Christopher Brown and Michael DeBlasi were on patrol on Route 537 when they observed two vehicles parked at the entrance ramp to the Six Flags Great Adventure theme park.
Great Adventure was not open and the gates at the entrance ramp were closed. Police said the two vehicles the officers observed were parked facing oncoming traffic on Route 537.
As the officers turned around to check on the two vehicles, they observed the drivers pull away from the theme park’s entrance and drive against the flow of traffic, heading east in the westbound lanes of Route 537 to eventually make a U-turn to head west.
Police said as Brown pulled in behind the two vehicles, he observed that the vehicle directly in front of him was traveling at a speed that was about 10 mph below the posted speed limit in what appeared to be an attempt to block him as the second vehicle began pulling away at a high rate of speed.
Police said Brown was able to move around the first vehicle and as he began closing the gap on the second vehicle, he observed the driver appear to increase speed and pass other vehicles on Route 537.
The officer activated his vehicle’s emergency lights and as he reached speeds nearing 90 mph, the driver of the vehicle he was pursuing continued to pull away from him.
As Brown approached the intersection of Route 537 and Hawkin Road, he saw that the vehicle he had been pursuing had crashed into a utility pole as the driver attempted to turn left from Route 537 onto Hawkin Road.
Brown observed individuals standing outside the vehicle and one male began running into a wooded area at the location, according to police.
The officer began to pursue the individual into the woods while calling for him to stop running. After the male encountered dense brush, he stopped running and began walking back toward Brown.
As the male who had been attempting to flee the scene exited the woods and got close to Brown, he lunged at the officer’s holstered firearm. A brief struggle ensued until the individual was handcuffed and placed under arrest, according to Jackson police.
By that time, DeBlasi and officers Robert Reiff and James Reynolds and Sgt. Michael Kelly had arrived at the scene to assist Brown. Police said two other occupants of the vehicle that had crashed were taken into custody.
Police said as the situation at Route 537 and Hawkin Road was ongoing, the other vehicle that had been observed at the Great Adventure entrance ramp arrived at the location.
Police said the occupants of that vehicle were told they would need to be interviewed regarding the matter. Before those individuals could be identified, that vehicle left the scene. Police said efforts are continuing in an attempt to further identify that vehicle.
Jackson police said officers from the Plumsted Police Department arrived at the scene to investigate the motor vehicle crash. The 2014 Mercedes that struck the utility pole at Route 537 and Hawkin Road was impounded.
The three occupants of that vehicle were identified as residents of Philadelphia.
Police said the 17-year-old male driver was charged with eluding police, speeding, careless driving, reckless driving and being an unlicensed driver. He was initially placed in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center, Toms River.
Police said the 16-year-old male who attempted to flee was charged with resisting arrest and attempting to disarm a law enforcement officer. He was initially placed in the Ocean County Juvenile Detention Center.
Police said an 18-year-old male who was a passenger in the vehicle was charged with eluding police. He was released on a summons pending a court appearance.
Police said a summons would be issued to the owner of the Mercedes for allowing an unlicensed driver to operate the vehicle.