Fairfield Police Arrest Jason Struss, of oakland, after thursday night route 46 accident and three-hour search
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
First Published 9:20pm, Thursday, July 25
FAIRFIELD, NJ - Fairfield Police have arrested Jason S. Struss, 43, of Oakland, after last night's accident, and subsequent three-hour search throughout the Fairfield area. West Essex area police offered mutual aid, along with the Fairfield Fire Department, West Essex First Aid Squad, Essex County Sheriff's Department and NJ State police until Struss was eventually found and arrested on Alan Drive in Fairfield.
The incident began last night at about 9:23pm when repeated calls came into the headquarters notifying police that a car had flipped over multiple times after crashing with another vehicle on Route 46 West. Fairfield Police immediately responded and located what turned out to be a 2019 Nissan, owned by Struss, near a parking lot at 333 Route 46.
Witnesses told police that they saw a man run off from the car, northwards away from the scene, after throwing off a shirt.
Witnesses described the male as:
The Fairfield Fire Department responded to handle the fuel leak which had been caused by the accident.
Mutual aid came quickly from the West Essex area police departments of North Caldwell and West Caldwell. The officers assisted Fairfield Police, including Chief of Police Gary Manna, in spreading out across the area, searching yards and businesses, including the nearby hotels.
Additional Fairfield Police attended to the driver of the first car, a 2008 Mazda. The West Essex First Aid Squad was dispatched to treat the first driver.
"Responding officers immediately attended to a thirty-six year old female from Newark who was the operator of a 2008 Mazda," reported Manna. "She was eventually transported to St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson."
The Essex County Sheriff's K-9 Unit arrived but unfortunately they were not able to track any scent. Plans were put in place to use Fairfield's new drone as well as a thermal-imagery camera.
“There were strong indications that Struss was injured in the crash, however to what extent could not be determined” said Manna. “That is why we continued to aggressively search and employed some special investigative techniques in order to try and find Struss to assure he was not dying somewhere.”
By 11pm, the NJ State Police began searching along the Route 80 area and officers continued to search yard by yard through Fairfield neighborhoods.
Police were able to determine who owned the car, and through that they obtained his cellphone number. By pinging the phone they were also able to triangulate its location to the Alan Drive neighborhood.
Concentrating their efforts on locating a man who they surmised was heavily injured, and knowing that the phone was in close range, police proactively decided to call it.
The suspect reportedly answered the phone, and was apparently confused by the person calling him. He was said to have stated that he was lost in Fairfield and needed to be picked up. Then the suspect hung up and when police next texted him, they could hear the sound of the cellphone receiving the text very close by.
Struss was soon located hiding near the home.
"This investigation led officers to the area of 34 Alan Drive, a residential neighborhood approximately a quarter mile or so from the accident scene," stated Manna. "At 11:41pm, Sergeant John McGrory found Struss secreted in some shrubbery along the side of the house. He was taken into custody without incident. It is alleged that, while searching the area before finding Struss’ hiding place, he knew he was close as he stated he could smell the odor of an
Struss was arrested and the West Essex First Aid Squad transported him to Morristown Memorial Hospital for evaluation.
Struss was later released from the hospital and at police headquarters he was charged with:
Struss was then returned to Morristown Memorial Hospital for
Investigating Officers Sergeant Christopher Niemiec and Officer Daniel Moran have determined that the female driver's Mazda was travelling west on Route 46 in the right lane and Struss’ Nissan was directly behind her in the same lane and that it hit her from behind.
Police believe Struss’ Nissan struck the left rear of the Mazda, which caused it to spin, strike a utility pole and come to rest on the lawn of 333 Route 46.
Witnesses have told police that the Nissan may have flipped
as many as four times before it came to rest, right side up, near the driveway of 333 Route 46.
Route 46 West was closed until about 1am and Chief Manna commended the work of all of the responding emergency personnel "in both the treatment of the injured and the apprehension of the suspect."
“We are extremely thankful that no one was seriously hurt or killed in this crash” said the chief.