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Handcuffed Fugitive Who Jumped Into Passaic River Was Wanted Out Of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts

The suspect jumped from the North 6th Street Bridge – also known as the Sixth Avenue Bridge --  which connects Paterson and Prospect Park at the Hawthorne border.
The suspect jumped from the North 6th Street Bridge – also known as the Sixth Avenue Bridge -- which connects Paterson and Prospect Park at the Hawthorne border. Photo Credit: INSET: Hawthorne PD / BACKGROUND: GoogleMaps

A suspect who nearly drowned after jumping into the Passaic River while handcuffed was wanted in both Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, authorities said.

Juan Castano, 29, of New York was a passenger in a car driven by a Paterson resident that Hawthorne police stopped in response to a call late Tuesday afternoon of two suspicious-looking men peering over the barbed wire fence of the Citywide Towing impound lot in Hawthorne.

“People have previously jumped their fence and stolen vehicles that had been impounded due to being stolen,” Hawthorne Detective Lt. Matthew Hoogmoed said Thursday.

Borough officers stopped the duo’s 2022 Mercedes GT43 as it headed south on Goffle Road, then got both men out of the car and handcuffed them, the lieutenant said.

They were interviewing the pair when Castano bolted down the street, Hoogmoed said.

Castano turned left onto the North 6th Street Bridge – also known as the Sixth Avenue Bridge -- which connects Paterson and Prospect Park at the Hawthorne border.

Then he jumped.

Uniformed officers and detectives went in after the handcuffed Castano, who was having trouble staying above the water. Two got to him downstream and pulled him to safety, Hoogmoed said.

An EMS unit was called to check out the officers. Both were wet and cold but otherwise fine, witnesses said.

Castano, meanwhile, was “found to be wanted from both Massachusetts and from Pennsylvania for various offenses,” the lieutenant said.

Hawthorne police charged him with resisting arrest, escape and being a fugitive from justice (twice).

He was sent to the Passaic County Jail to await a first appearance in Central Judicial Processing Court on the Hawthorne charges. Extradition proceedings were expected to follow.

The Mercedes driver, 29, was released without charges.

"We really appreciate all the well-wishes for our officers who ended up going for a swim," Hawthorne police posted on Facebook. "Good guys, bad guys, and everyone in between[.] [O]ur goal is to preserve life. Fortunately, everyone involved is safe and healthy.

"Unfortunately, incidents such as these are becoming 'just another day at the office'."

First responders from Paterson, Prospect Park, Hawthorne, Fair Lawn and Glen Rock also responded, along with the Passaic County Sheriff's Office and New Jersey State Police.

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