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Third Suspect In Middlesex County Slaying…

South Brunswick Officer Struck by Alleged Intoxicated Driver

Patrolman Angelo Zecca was still able to detain suspect after his car was struck on Route 27 and knocked off the highway.

A South Brunswick Police officer was injured early Tuesday morning after his car was struck by an alleged intoxicated driver.

Patrolman First Class Angelo Zecca suffered contusions and bruising, in addition to a sprained ankle and whiplash, after his patrol car was struck on Route 27 shortly after midnight. 

At 12:04 a.m., Zecca was headed north on Route 27 near Vilet Drive when his patrol car was struck in the rear by a 2008 Saturn, which sent Zecca's vehicle off the highway. Police said the Saturn was traveling at a high rate of speed when it struck the patrol car, which forced the vehicle across the southbound lanes of the highway into the traffic light stanchion.

Following the collision, Zecca's patrol car rotated 180 degrees and came to a rest just off the roadway, as both side airbags deployed on the patrol car. Police said the driver of the Saturn, Joseph Menedes, 24, of Phillipsburg, exited his vehicle and was bleeding as he allegedly attempted to walk away from the scene of the accident.

However, Zecca was able to free himself from the patrol car to catch Mendes, according to police. Officers also recovered a small amount of marijuana at the location where Zecca had detained Mendes, police said.

Both Zecca and Mendes were transported to Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, where Zecca was treated and released. Mendes was given treatment for his injuries before being released into police custody.

He was charged with assault by auto, driving while intoxicated, possession of under 50 grams of marijuana, possession of a controlled dangerous substance in a motor vehicle, possession of an open alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle, reckless driving and additional motor vehicle offenses. Mendes posted $250 bail and was released.

“Officer Zecca was saved from serious injuries because he was wearing his seat belt and the airbags in the patrol car deployed," said Chief Raymond Hayducka. "The suspect was traveling at a high rate of speed and intoxicated. We are thankful the officer and no one in the general public was seriously injured or killed by this driver.”

Gene McCarty January 22, 2013 at 03:17 PM
Thank God Officer Zecca was not seriously injured!
John Painter January 22, 2013 at 03:43 PM
Ofc. Zecca is a good police officer. Thank God he's okay. The bail should have been 25,000.00 at least! This is Agravated Assault on a police officer! What the hell is wrong with the judge?????????????.
LK2011 January 22, 2013 at 04:30 PM
That is really scary. I'm glad the officer wasn't injured more seriously, but he still got pretty beaten up. The drunk driver could easily have killed others and himself.
Jacinto Ruales January 22, 2013 at 05:05 PM
That dude is F*****D
Joe R January 22, 2013 at 06:07 PM
Thank goodness the officer was not seriously injured but that is a severe trauma for any human being and one can only guess at possible orthopedic problems that could arise. Even after that terrible crash, Officer Zecca was still able to capture the miscreant, that is an incredible feat. Mendes posted $250 bail and was released, that's rather shocking considering the seriousness of the offense. A unionized public employee is a hero.
Redwall1500 January 23, 2013 at 12:22 AM
$250 bail?? What's up with that, he almost ends an officers carrier and he gets to bond out? He should have been sent to the work house until trial period.
Mark January 23, 2013 at 02:03 PM
$250.00 bail for DWI and fleeing the scene??? Thankfully Angelo is ok.
Concerned Citizen January 23, 2013 at 09:26 PM
It's difficult to have any sympathy for the drunk driver. He should get what's coming to him. $250 bail is incredibly low for driving drunk and slamming into another vehicle at a high rate of speed. Open alcoholic beverage and marijuana as well? $250???
ReallySB January 24, 2013 at 03:57 AM
Really $250 seems very low for this incident, luckily officer zecca did not die hope he has a speedy recovery, because I can only imagine the cost of this incident to the taxpayer with the officer of a base salary of $103,388. Not including the loss of a brand new cop car. . .
veritas January 24, 2013 at 12:29 PM
Its sickening when All people think about it is taxes and money. There is a need for an armageddon a new beginning for people to Appreciate life more than a piece of paper.

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