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Hero Port Authority Officer Stops Rolling GWB Car With Stoned-Out Driver

Anibal Rivera, Brandon K. Eckhardt Photo Credit: MUGSHOTS: Courtesy PORT AUTHORITY PD
The stolen Mercedes. Photo Credit: COURTESY: Port Authority PD

FORT LEE, N.J. -- A Port Authority police officer used his cruiser to stop a stolen car whose stoned driver had passed out behind the wheel on the upper level of the George Washington Bridge, authorities said.

The owner, a resident of The Modern in Fort Lee, had a valet bring the white 2016 Mercedes sedan to a local business on Thursday to be washed and detailed, police said.

An employee of the business -- identified as 28-year-old Anibal Rivera of Newark -- instead drove the car to Jersey City, where he picked up Brandon K. Eckhardt, 26, they said.

Lt. Vincent Desimone was on patrol when he saw the Mercedes moving slowly, impeding traffic, after passing through the GWB tolls, headed to New York City, around 1:20 a.m. Friday, Pentangelo said.

Desimone pulled alongside and saw Rivera out cold.

Eckhardt, meanwhile, was trying to steer.

The lieutenant then pulled his radio car in front of the Mercedes and used the rear bumper to slow it down, Pentangelo said.

The sedan then peeled off and came to rest against the right-lane at the New Jersey tower.

A "strong odor of burnt marijuana" came from inside the car, Pentangelo said. A partially smoked marijuana joint was at Eckhardt's feet, he added.

"The owner didn't even know the car was stolen," a law enforcement source told Daily Voice. "She was told there was a long line and it wouldn't be done right away.

"So she said she'd pick it up in the morning."

She got the car back with minor damage to the right front fender, police said.

Rivera, meanwhile, was charged with theft, receiving stolen property, unlawful taking, reckless driving, impeding traffic, possession of drugs, having drugs in a motor vehicle and driving under the influence.

Eckhardt was charged with theft, receiving stolen property and drug possession.

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