Responders were extricating an injured 19-year-old Bergenfield driver from his car following a wrong-way crash in Teaneck when a township officer spotted a gun in the teen's waistband, authorities said.
Officer Patrick Haase seized the loaded 9mm handgun, rendered it safe and secure, then called for detectives following the crash, Deputy Police Chief John Faggello said.
Barsheem Atkins was headed south on Teaneck Road when he lost control of his Ford Fusion for some reason near Holland Terrace shortly after 9 p.m., Faggello said.
The sedan veered into oncoming traffic, where it slammed into the passenger side of a Mercedes Benz GLE, the deputy chief said.
Haase and an off-duty nurse who heard the crash "stabilized Mr. Atkins to prevent him from sustaining any additional injuries," Faggello said.
"While doing so, Officer Haase detected a strong odor of burnt marijuana emanating from the inside of the motor vehicle," he said.
The Mercedes driver as OK and didn't require attention, the deputy chief said.
Arriving Teaneck firefighters and members of the Teaneck Volunteer Ambulance Corps began to provide medical assistance while freeing Atkins from the Fusion when the officer spotted the black handgun, Faggello said.
"Once Mr. Atkins was stable enough, he was placed under arrest for unlawful possession of a handgun and transported to Hackensack University Medical Center," he said.
Atkins remained there in stable condition Tuesday under the guard of Bergen County sheriff's officers pending transfer to the county jail. He's charged with illegal possession of a handgun, a large-capacity magazine and hollow-point ammo.
Atkins also received summonses for careless driving and failing to produce an insurance certificate, the deputy chief said.
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