Category 10 Winds, Along with Intense Squall and Thunderstorms, Create Instant Chaos Across West Essex Tuesday
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
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WEST ESSEX, NJ - Late Tuesday afternoon, West Essex was slammed with a storm so strong that many have questioned if we had a tornado come through the area.
While some areas of New York did see tornados touch down, West Essex experienced a brief, but incredibly powerful, Squall with Whole Gale, Category 10, 66mph Winds, which was followed up by equally damaging Thunderstorms.
The violently intense onset was reported by NOAA's Fairfield Weather Station as a Squall - which they define as a "sudden violent gust of wind or a localized storm" - and it began in West Essex at 4:44pm, followed by Thunderstorms which continued until 6:01pm.
In this very short period of time, the Winds, Lightning, and Rain caused a huge amount of damage around the West Essex area.
What follows is a timeline of incidents chronicled as they were reported (not as they occured) to which Police, Fire and DPW crews responded and worked tirelessly to clean up for days:
Tuesday, May 15
Police begin welfare checks of residences, including homes where children are on their own.
Roseland: Eagle Rock Avenue, Methodist Church
By the end of the Storm, over 90 streets which included hundreds of residents, were without power:
by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
CALDWELL, NJ - At 8:50am Saturday morning, Caldwell Police were called to the area of 490 Bloomfield Avenue for reports of a serious two-car accident. The Caldwell Fire Department and West Essex First Aid Squad soon also responded for three persons, two of whom were entrapped.
Due to the severity of injury, the Essex County Prosecutor's Office was alerted to investigate the accident. No information from police has been released at this time.
Devon Smith, 22, of Newark, and Theo Walsh, 23, of East Orange, Killed in Monday Evening Caldwell Car Crash; One Hospitalized in Critical Condition
UPDATED: 6pm Wednesday
CALDWELL, NJ - Monday night at 11:51pm, Caldwell Police, the West Essex First Aid Squad, and the Caldwell Fire Department responded to the scene of a car crash at Mountain Avenue near Hatfield Street in Caldwell. First Responders encountered an overturned vehicle with entrapment and two individuals were taken to the hospital while one other individual died at the scene. The Essex County Prosecutor's Office also responded at the time of the incident.
According to Acting Essex County Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray and Caldwell Police Chief James H. Bongiorno, a driver and two passengers were traveling southbound on Mountain Avenue in a 2015 Ford Mustang when they crashed into a telephone pole and a tree at about 11:30pm. The front seat passenger, Theo Walsh, 23, of East Orange was pronounced dead at the scene.
A North Caldwell Police Patrol Officer first noticed the high rate of speed the car was traveling at and while they were calling the information into dispatchers they then heard the crash and reported it immediately. At 3am Tuesday morning, the Fire Department returned to the scene to provide lighting for the investigation which continued until 8:30am; Mountain Avenue remained closed between Elm Road and Forest Avenue.
The driver, Devon Smith, 22, of Newark, was taken to University Hospital where on Tuesday he succumbed to the injuries he sustained in the crash. Smith was in his third year at Kean University. The backseat passenger, 18, a college student also of Newark, sustained serious injuries and remains hospitalized in critical condition. Their name is not being released at this time.
The crash which is being investigated by the Caldwell Police Department and the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office Homicide/Major Crimes Task Force.
John Hannon, 55, of Toms River, Killed in Saturday Morning Plane Crash Behind Kiddie Academy, Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell
UPDATE: 1:30pm Tuesday
The Medical Examiner's office has confirmed the pilot's identity as John Hannon, 55, of Toms River.
WEST CALDWELL, NJ - Saturday morning, at 9:59am, the West Caldwell Police and Fairfield Police were alerted to a plane crash in the wooded area behind Kiddie Academy, located at 810 Passaic Avenue, West Caldwell. Immediately after, West Caldwell Fire Department and the Fairfield Fire Department were dispatched to the scene for a working fire in progress. By 10:03am the West Essex First Aid Squad was dispatched to the crash site as well.
"Officers discovered a single engine Cessna 206
Peter Knudson, spokesman from the National Transportion Safety Board in Washington DC, confirmed with West Essex Now that the plane was a Cessna T206H. Knudson said that there was one person on board, the pilot, and he was killed in the accident. According to Knudson, the plane crashed after takeoff from the Essex County Airport into the rear of Kiddie Academy which is about 1/2 mile away. An investigator from the NTSB arrived in town Saturday afternoon, and the investigation continued with local law authorities early Sunday morning. Knudson also confirmed that fire from the plane itself caused a brush fire to the surrounding area.
West Caldwell Fire Chief Jim Alvine explained to WEN that he saw the plane having problems, called the police, and then sent out a call for mutual aid from Fairfield, Caldwell, Verona and the West Essex First Aid Squad.
"I witnessed the plane coming down and crashing," Alvine commented.
Fairfield Deputy Fire Chief Tim Connolly was the first to reach the burning airplane.
"I was the first one to reach the wreckage," Connolly commented.
Because the plane crashed into the woods, the fire departments were extinguishing both the plane fuel fire and the surrounding area brush fire as well using "Purple K Fire Extiguishers."
Kiddie Academy does offer a summer program for infants to children up to age 12; because the incident occurred on Saturday, the school was closed.
The Caldwell Fire Department provided mutual aid with one engine, and one truck at 10:08am. North Caldwell Police responded to Passaic Avenue for traffic control and North Caldwell Fire Department responded, as well, with one engine. The Verona Fire Department and the Essex County Sheriff's Department also offered mutual aid.
At 10:38am, the Roseland Fire Department and soon after the Essex Fells Fire Department each responded with one engine to the West Caldwell firehouse for coverage.
Because this is an aviation incident, the Federal Aviation Authority and the National Transportation Safety Board are handling the investigation.
According to Paris, it is believed Hannon experienced a mechanical malfunction with the airplane during take-off. The debris has been removed from the crash site.