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Police: Driver, 21, Leads Wild North Jersey Pursuit After Officers Interrupt 20-Car Drag Race

Nicholas Slaaen and his Dodge Charger.
Nicholas Slaaen and his Dodge Charger. Photo Credit: Essex County Jail/Facebook photo

A 21-year-old driver lead police on a wild pursuit across North Jersey after police interrupted what appeared to be a 20-car race on Route 80, authorities said.

Police responded to at the Route 80 entrance ramp on New Maple Avenue in Montville, where nearly 20 luxury vehicles were arriving, apparently getting ready to race around 12:15 a.m. Jan. 3, Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna said.

While several of the cars drove off as police showed up, a grey Dodge Charger struck a 2020 Mazda MX5, then fled down the eastbound side of the highway, Manna said.

Police recognized the Charger driver as Nicholas Slaaen, 21, a college freshman, authorities said.

Fairfield officers tried to stop the Dodge, but it would not pull over and instead, sped up -- leading officers on a brief pursuit, according to Manna.

The pursuit was called off when the speeds became unsafe.

When Fairfield officers called Slaaen on his phone requesting he surrender, he told them he was not driving the Charger, saying he was in Morristown and the car was in Toms River, Manna said.

At approximately 1:30 a.m., Livingston police stopped the same Charger and found Slaaen behind the wheel, according to Manna. 

Slaaen was taken into custody and turned over to Fairfield authorities, the Dodge Charger impounded.

Slaaen was issued 13 motor vehicle violations, and charged with eluding police, and resisting arrest by flight and obstruction of justice, Manna said.

He was remanded to the Essex County Jail pending a hearing the superior court in Newark.

According to his Facebook page, Slaaen is a student at Montclair State University.

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