LACEY POLICE INVOLVED PEDESTRIAN FATAL INVESTIGATION FINDINGS
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato announced today that he has completed his review of the investigation into the pedestrian fatal motor vehicle collision involving Lacey Township Police Officer Andrew Slota and Neil Van De Putte, 24, of Toms River, NJ.
Due to the Lacey officer being involved in the accident, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Major Crimes/Fatal Accident Investigation Unit was joined by Toms River Police Department Traffic Safety Division and the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department CSI in investigating the circumstances surrounding the accident which resulted in Mr. Van De Putte’s death.
With regard to the specific findings of the partnering agencies concerning the factual circumstances of the incident, the investigation revealed that at the time of the collision, 3:22 a.m. on July 5, 2015, Officer Slota was operating a marked Lacey Police vehicle at a high rate of speed on Lacey Road while responding to a report of a disturbance at the security perimeter of the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station. Officer Slota had not activated the vehicle’s emergency lights or siren. The vehicle’s headlights were activated. Mr. Van De Putte was crossing Lacey Road on foot at the time of the collision and was struck in the roadway despite Officer Slota’s attempts to avoid him. Mr. Van De Putte died as a result of the injuries.
At the time of impact it is clear that Mr. Van De Putte, who was intoxicated, entered the roadway against a red traffic signal. Officer Slota proceeded into the intersection under a green traffic light. Mr.Van De Putte was accompanied by a friend, who observed the oncoming police vehicle and determined that he could not safely cross the roadway. A motorist who witnessed the accident confirmed that Officer Slota was proceeding under the green traffic signal, and that Mr. Van De Putte could not be avoided.
The completed investigation included an exhaustive crash scene analysis consisting of:
- Forensic analysis of crash scene evidence including laser scan with Nikon Total Station, documenting pre-impact and post-impact trajectory of the police vehicle,
- Contact and induced damage analysis of the 2006 Ford Crown Vic,
- Download and analysis of both the Powertrain Control Module and Restraint Control Module (Black Boxes) in the 2006 Ford Crown Vic,
- Post-crash canvass of area businesses for surveillance video,
- Examination of existing traffic control devices,
- Examination of ambient lighting conditions and the relationship to pedestrian visibility at the time of the crash.
The Office of the Ocean County Prosecutor finds that there are no grounds for filing any criminal or motor vehicle charges against Officer Andrew Slota. The matter will now be referred to the Lacey Township Police Department so that Chief David Paprota may conduct his own internal review of the matter for any violations of departmental policy.
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