Blinded by heavy rain and thick fog, a pair of Jersey City police officers drove off an open section of a bridge on Christmas night as fellow officers frantically tried to warn them off with flashlights, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The accident killed officer Shawn Carson, 40, whose body was pulled from the submerged police truck two hours after the vehicle plunged 45 feet into the Hackensack River. Officer Robert Nguyen, 30, was missing and presumed dead.
Police officials are trying to find out how and why the accident happened. A truck accident Friday had disabled the mechanical barriers that block vehicles when the bridge is raised for river traffic. Carson and Nguyen, members of the Emergency Services Unit, were sent to replenish flares Christmas night prior to the bridge being opened for a tugboat. Other Jersey City officers were also at the foot of the bridge and spoke briefly with Carson and Nguyen, but were distracted by someone reporting a crime as the two officers drove toward the open span. “They dropped off the cones and the flares, wished everyone a Merry Christmas and were joking around,” Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy said.