|A diagram on the police report shows the pedestrian fell with her feet in the crosswalk. No charges were filed against the driver for failing to yield to her.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
Did Hackensack police botch the investigation into a March 9 pedestrian accident or are they trying to cover for a fellow law-enforcement officer who wasn't charged in the death of a 64-year-old woman?
Police now say the 911 call or calls alerting them to the rush-hour accident near Route 80 "were not recorded."
That means there is no way to know whether Detective Sgt. John C. Straniero, 49, of the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office called 911 to report the accident immediately and whether he identified himself as a law-enforcement officer.
Nor whether he came to a full stop at the stop sign and yielded to the woman crossing from his right. Or, was he looking left for oncoming traffic before he turned right and struck her?
Or, as neighborhood residents speculate, whether he was on the phone before he hit her.
This week, Hackensack denied an Open Public Records Act request for an interview with Straniero police videotaped the day after the accident.
No charges filed
Hackensack filed no charges against the detective in the death of Hue D. Dang, a Vietnamese-American woman who was struck as she crossed Jackson Avenue and Kennedy Street, according to a diagram on the police report, which shows she fell with her feet in the crosswalk.
A plastic grocery bag the 5-foot, 100-pound woman was carrying fell next to a wheel of the unmarked car, said a woman in the neighborhood who recalled police refused to answer her questions, told her to go away and said she could read about the accident in the newspaper the next day.
Dang, a former supermarket cashier who lived only a few blocks away from where she was struck, died less than an hour later at Hackensack University Medical Center.
After she was taken away in an ambulance, a resident took a photo of the blood that flowed from her head and stained the pavement near the crosswalk.
The Record's single story didn't appear until March 11, two days later, and police, who didn't mention the Jackson Avenue crosswalk to the reporter, claimed they didn't know where Dang was "standing" when she was struck.
Capt. Nicole Foley, then head of the Traffic Division, also told reporter Stefanie Dazio in a phone interview the detective stopped at the stop sign, then struck the woman as he turned right.
But Foley said there were no witnesses, adding the traffic fatality appears to be the result of an accident."
"She [Foley] said she did not anticipate criminal charges or motor vehicle charges being filed against Straniero," Dazio reported.
In response to an OPRA request, Eye on The Record was given a one-paragraph explanation, dated April 9, from Police Office Bryan Feuilly to Capt. Tim Lloyd, the new officer-in-charge of the Hackensack department:
"Due to the new Toshiba phone system being installed, the 911 call(s) and/0r radio transmissions regarding the pedestrian struck ... on 3/09/2015 at 16:44 hours at the intersection of Jackson Ave. and Kennedy St. were not recorded.
"There was an issue with the voice logger not being compatible with the new phone system. The old system was Avaya. This issue has since been rectified," Feuilly said.
Page 1 of The Record reports a court threw a wrench into Governor Christie's voodoo budget balancing, blocking his attempt to use $160 million earmarked for affordable housing (A-1).
Unfortunately, Editor Martin Gottlieb devotes a huge amount of the front page to a ceremony in Virginia for a Dumont native who was among 32 students killed on April 16, 2007, and a silly sports column (A-1).
Otherwise, he could have run a sidebar to the court ruling explaining how Christie's inflexible no-tax policies -- especially his vetoes of a surcharge on millionaires and refusal to raise the low gasoline levy -- have wrecked the state economy.
There are at least a dozen police or court stories fleshing out today's thin Local-news section (L-1 to L-6), another disappointing performance by Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza.
When Elisa Ung spends half of her short review on background information for Sear House Grill in Little Falls, you know the food and service were mediocre (BL-14).
This place charges $84 for enough mystery beef to choke a horse, but the ravenous reporter found room to sample a few artery clogging desserts.