A woman driving through oncoming traffic nearly collided head-on with a police car Thursday night. The police car was then rear-ended by a third vehicle as police attempted to stop the allegedly intoxicated female who was driving east in the Route 37 westbound lanes for about a mile.
Officer William Hutton spotted the car driving the wrong way around Brookside Drive on Route 37 and abruptly stopped in the westbound lanes and activated his emergency lights and sirens, said Capt. Steven Henry.
The driver veered out of the way, managing to avoid a head-on collision with Hutton's police car, Henry said. But a car driving behind Hutton was unable to stop and rear-ended the officer's vehicle.
"Officer Hutton immediately activated his emergency lights and siren and came to an abrupt stop," Henry said. "The west bound vehicle swerved, narrowly missing the police unit. A second vehicle operated by a Skylar Dean of Whiting was traveling east bound behind the police unit. Dean was unable to stop in time, striking the police vehicle in the rear."
Hutton was transported to Community Medical Center for minor injuries. He was soon after released.
Meanwhile, Officer Greg Errion was in the area of Route 37 East and Gilford Avenue, about a mile away. Errion spotted the vehicle traveling eastbound in the westbound lanes still.
Henry said the driver managed to pass the second police car, then turned into a parking lot.
"Officer Errion activated his emergency lights and stopped his vehicle. The east bound vehicle passed him and turned off the highway into a parking lot. Officer Errion was able to detain the operator as she attempted to exit the vehicle," Henry said.
Errion placed the female driver under arrest. Meghann Sabato, 32, of Barnes Lane of Toms River, was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless driving and several other motor vehicle violations.
Henry said the two officers' actions were essential to preventing further injury to other drivers on OUrte 37.
"Officer Hutton is credited for his initial actions which in this case prevented a head-on collision with his vehicle, and the other motorist behind him," he said.
Traffic Safety Officer Steven Schwartz and Sergeant Edward Mooney conducted an investigation.