Updated on Monday, July 14
LIVINGSTON, NJ - The 300 block of South Livingston Avenue (near Inglemoor Care Center) was shut down for about four hours on Tuesday, July 1, after a motor vehicle which was stopped for hazardous driving turned out to have toxic elements within it.
According to Livingston Police Detective Sergeant Anthony Dippold, his police department received calls at about 5pm on July 1, alerting them to a 2006 Blue Honda Element driving north erratically on S. Livingston Avenue. When police pulled over the vehicle they noticed that the driver, Andrew Straub, 27, had hypodermic syringes on the center console.
Straub explained to the officer that he was in the process of transporting items from his old home in Plainfield to his new residence in Livingston. As the officers examined the vehicle, they also found labelled containers of what turned out to be sealed, separated from each other, alcohol-based chemicals. Soon after, three of the officers became ill from the fumes which were emanating from the containers.
The police called in the Nutley Hazmat Team to identify the chemicals and the Honda was impounded at police headquarters. In addition, animal control was called in because live fish were also found in the car, which the driver stated were pets being moved to his new Livingston home.
The items inside of Straub's vehicle caused police to be concerned enough to close down South Livingston Avenue. Nutley Hazmat arrived at the scene by 5:24pm and after a subsequent observation of the car, determined that the driver and the responding officers were contaminated with toxic elements and all were transferred by the Livingston First Aid Squad to St. Barnabas Hospital by 5:56pm.
At the hospital, a staff member trained in contaminates met them outside and treated them. The Hazmat team continued to secure the area by 6:51pm.
The Hazmat team, the Livingston Fire Department and officers from the the NJ State Police and the Essex County Sheriff's Office - along with an agent from the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) - continued to work through the night and by 9:44pm the officers left the scene and declared the area to be safe.
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Straub's house ended up being searched by law officials but no evidence for the reason he was transporting the chemicals was ever found. He was ultimately charged with possession of drug paraphernalia.
Although neighbors reported hearing a possible explosion during the arrest, to their knowledge police were unaware of any noise or any connection of a noise to the arrest.