A Mahwah motorist said an icy roadway sent his pickup into a utility pole, taking wires down and cutting power to Ramapo College and surrounding homes Wednesday night – but police said he was intoxicated.
The 2017 Ford F-150 crashed during the freezing rain on Route 202 near the entrance to the college’s sculpture studio just after 10 p.m., Police Chief James N. Batelli said.
Almost immediately, the police communications desk began to get calls about area power failures, he said.
Responding Officers Timothy Letavish and Matt Buonocore also noted that “utility pole lights were not operating and houses in the area were dark,” the chief said.
The driver, 40-year-old township resident James Lee, “indicated the crash was caused by icy road conditions,” Batelli said.
However, the officers “detected an odor of an alcoholic beverage on his breath and actions consistent with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage,” he said.
They took him into custody after Lee failed field sobriety tests, Batelli said.
Mahwah EMS was requested but Lee declined medical attention, he said.
Ramapo College reported outages in most campus residential areas and the main Academic Complex. Extra security officers were patrolling the campus, college officials said.
Orange and Rockland Utility Company crews worked through the night to make repairs that were completed by early morning, Batelli said.
Lee was released to a responsible adult pending a Feb. 28 court appearance and his vehicle was impounded for 12 hours, under John’s Law.
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