Category: Other Towns

Update: NJ Man Dies From Asphyxia At Chair 37 in Vail Mountain's Blue Sky Basin By Hanging From Ski Coat

February 14, 2020

Updated to include town in NJ and additional information.

Special thanks to Vail Daily for contributing to this report.

VAIL COLORADO (EAGLE)–According to reports a New Jersey man has died by Chair 37 Skyline Express Lift in the Blue Sky Basin area of Vail’s legendary back bowls. Jason Varnish, 46, of Short Hills, New Jersey, died Thursday on Vail Mountain, coroner Kara Bettis has confirmed.

Update from Vail Daily:

Coroner Kara Bettis said the death has been ruled an accident.

Bettis, in a text, wrote: “We are still investigating how this whole situation happened. According to our initial investigation, the deceased slipped through the seat of the chair lift and his ski coat got caught up in the chair. The coat ended up going up around his head and neck area putting his neck in a position that compromised his airway.”

See Vail Daily for further updates on the investigation

Blue Sky Basin was closed after the incident:

Please also follow this breaking story at Vail Daily for the latest information.

Softball Coach Charged With Stealing Team Money

February 12, 2020

FREEHOLD – A Neptune Township man who coached a competitive youth softball team is facing charges of theft after he misused about $14,000 of the team’s funds earmarked for traveling expenses and tournament costs, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Michael Lane, 54, of Neptune Township, was charged Monday with third degree Theft by Unlawful Taking and third degree Misapplication of Entrusted Property by detectives from the Tinton Falls Police Department with assistance from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office.

Lane, in his capacity as the coach for the Monmouth Surf softball team (a youth sports travel team) since 2013, received money from players to cover traveling expenses and tournament costs. But last July 2019, parents for the players were informed by Lane he misused the funds given to him for personal use and the money was no longer available. He then informed parents he would pay back the funds but the player’s participation would have to be cancelled. When money was not paid back, parents reported the crime to law enforcement and an investigation by the Tinton Falls Police Department, with assistance from the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office, revealed the defendant did not utilize the funds for the softball team and instead deposited approximately $14,000 of the stolen money into his personal account.


If convicted of the third degree crimes, Lane faces up to five years in a New Jersey state prison on each count.The case is assigned to Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutor Diane Aifer. Lane is represented by Jacqueline E. Cistaro, Esq. of New York.


Despite these charges, every defendant is presumed innocent, unless and until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, following a trial at which the defendant has all of the trial rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and State law.

New Jersey EMS System Has Needed Life Support For A Long Time!

January 26, 2020

Editorial by: PFANJ, Professional Firefighters of NJ

The Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system in New Jersey has long been in need of revamping and overhauling. Since 2010, the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ) has been working with the New Jersey State Legislature to enact critical changes to our EMS system that will help keep our communities safe. In fact, a law to rebuild the system was passed by the Legislature in 2012, but was vetoed by Governor Christie.

State Senator Declan J. O’Scanlon Jr. (R-13) is taking advantage of the union-busting shut-down of MONOC – New Jersey’s Hospital Service Corporation on April 1 to advocate for swift passage of a bill he is sponsoring (S-617) that would fundamentally change EMS delivery in New Jersey. Make no mistake, this bill will impact the method in which emergency medical help is provided to every neighborhood and family in our great state. The O’Scanlon bill is not the lifeline the NJ EMS system needs.

Instead of strengthening New Jersey’s EMS system, O’Scanlon’s bill lowers standards. It takes highly trained paramedics out of advanced life support units and replaces them with lower-paid EMTs with significantly less training and life-saving capabilities. While O’Scanlon’s bill claims to allow more staffing flexibility, it merely gives hospital systems shortcuts to higher profits. Some of these same hospital systems are the very ones responsible for the dismantling of MONOC.

MONOC, which provided ALS service in New Jersey for 40 years, is being dismantled and shutting its doors on April 1, 2020. MONOC was run by a board of directors that included management from RWJBarnabas HealthHackensack Meridian Health and CentraState Healthcare System. These hospitals systems now will absorb MONOC’s service area. MONOC’s International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) union EMS professionals will all lose their jobs and are offered no guarantee of employment in these takeover areas.

Senator O’Scanlon has stated that MONOC’s business model was no longer sustainable. One must ask, if these hospital systems were responsible for MONOC when MONOC collapsed, how will they effectively run this new EMS service?

The needed overhaul of our EMS system should be about giving the citizens of New Jersey the best possible emergency medical services available. The PFANJ and Professional Emergency Medical Service Association PEMSA – IAFF Local 4610 (PEMSA) have worked constructively in the past with Senator O’Scanlon on this overhaul, but more work needs to be done before this current and flawed legislation moves forward.

Paramedics know that hurrying through an emergency scene can lead to unintended mistakes. Deliberative care is always best for the patient and results in a better long-term prognosis. The same can be said for legislation. Instead of rushing to pass legislation like O’Scanlon’s bill that front-line EMS professionals are uncertain will help our communities, it is far more prudent to work with all stakeholders to create sustainable solutions that will have a proven positive impact on how EMS is delivered.

The citizens of New Jersey deserve the best emergency medical system the world has to offer. The PFANJ looks forward to continuing to modernize and increase professionalism of our state’s EMS system. We fear that the forced closure of MONOC and the rushing of O’Scanlon’s bill takes us in the wrong direction and makes us all less safe.

Don Marino
President
Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey

West Windsor Man Under Indictment for 40 Burglaries

December 18, 2019

TRENTON — A Mercer County grand jury returned a nine-count indictment this week charging Billy M. Woodard, 54, in connection with five residential burglaries in Mercer and Middlesex counties, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced.  The charges include three counts of burglary in West Windsor Township and two counts of burglary in Plainsboro Township.

In September 2019, a Mercer County grand jury returned a 55-count indictment charging Woodard with 19 burglaries in West Windsor, four in Robbinsville, six in Princeton, four in Lawrence and two in Hopewell.  He was also indicted on many third- and fourth-degree theft charges related to the burglaries.

Assistant Prosecutor Kathleen M. Petrucci presented both cases to the grand jury.

Prosecutor Onofri stated that, between June 2018 and May 2019, West Windsor Township and surrounding jurisdictions were inundated with a rash of residential burglaries.  A comprehensive and massive investigation was conducted by the West Windsor Police Department’s Detective Bureau, under the leadership of Chief Robert Garofalo, to determine if they were the acts of the same person or persons, and to identify those responsible and apprehend the culprits.  The exhaustive efforts led to identifying Woodard as the lone actor in more than 20 residential burglaries during the aforementioned time frame. In almost every single case, the burglaries took place while the residents were at home and asleep.

During the extensive investigation, lead West Windsor Detectives Eric Woodrow and Jason Jones sought assistance from the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Special Investigations Unit (SIU).  Ultimately, Woodard was apprehended during the commission of a residential burglary in Lower Makefield Township, Pennsylvania, on May 30, 2019. He remains in custody in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and is charged with numerous burglaries in that jurisdiction.

“Although Woodard has been linked to 22 residential burglaries in West Windsor Township, the investigation is ongoing,” Chief Garofalo said.  “The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office and the WWPD ask residents to continue your vigilance and be observant and considerate to your neighbors.  If you feel something is abnormal in your community, please don’t hesitate to contact your local police department immediately.”

Prosecutor Onofri and Chief Garofalo thanked the following agencies for the support and resources provided during the investigation:

  • West Windsor Police Department
  • Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Hopewell Township Police Department
  • Lawrence Township Police Department
  • Princeton Police Department
  • Robbinsville Township Police Department
  • Plainsboro Township Police Department
  • Lower Makefield Township (PA) Police Department

Despite having been indicted, every defendant is presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

A Mercer County grand jury returned a nine-count indictment this week charging Billy M. Woodard, 54, in connection with five residential burglaries in Mercer and Middlesex counties, Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo J. Onofri announced. Photo provided by: Mercer County Prosecutors Office

Updated: Serious Bus Accident on NJ Turnpike, One Fatality Reported, Several Injured

November 29, 2019 (updated 11/30/2019 to include official information from NJSP)

By: Dennis Symons, Jr.

HAMILTON TOWNSHIP–One person has died in a bus accident on the NJ Turnpike and several others had moderate to minor injuries. A bus traveling south on the NJ Turnpike was en route from New York City to Philadelphia, PA., NJ State Police said.

The south bound bus was in the area of mile marker 56.9 lost control and ran off the roadway by the Crosswicks Creek Bridge. It appears the guardrail and barrier had kept the bus from falling off the embankment of the bridge and into the creek below.

The Robbinsville Township Fire Department, IAFF Local #3786, Bordentown Township Fire Department IAFF Local #3091 were dispatched at 8:49 pm, also numerous first aid squads were requested and responded to the scene.

New Jersey State Police said that there were at least 20 passengers on board the bus at the time of crash and some passengers left the scene on their own.

There were seven injuries reported, six were minor and one moderate. The one “moderately” injured person had to be extricated and was transported to Capital Health in Hopewell. One injury was taken to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital at Hamilton and five refused treatment.

The NJ State Police did not release the name of the deceased, pending notification of family members.

The bus was operated by Skyliner Travel and Tours Bus Corp from Astoria, NY

A Hyundai traveling behind the bus was damaged by debris of the crash but did not impact the bus. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the NJ State Police.