One Dead, Others Injured: Police Vehicle Struck In Chain-Reaction Paterson Crash

UPDATE: A Florida ex-con with a massive criminal record was driving an SUV that killed one pedestrian and injured several others in a horrific crash in downtown Paterson, authorities revealed.

Harold Rasbin

Harold Rasbin, 31, already had grand theft auto convictions on his record – as well as a string of arrests for burglary, resisting arrest and assault dating back to when he was 15 – when a police officer responding to a call of an attempted break-in spotted him shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday, authorities said.

Rasbin took off on foot, hopped into a Honda that had been left running on Oliver Street and sped off toward the heart of the Silk City as the officer tried to scale an Ellison Street backyard fence that gave way, they said. He was later hospitalized.

The SUV, meanwhile, struck a stopped Paterson police vehicle that was “pulled over on the side of the road” at the corner of Main and Market streets, then hit another car and spun into crowds of civilians, Passaic County Prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes and Paterson Police Chief Ibrahim Baycora said in a joint announcement.

It was a horrifying scene that many likely wished they hadn’t witnessed: Amid the wreckage was the body of a man on his back, arms outstretched, his upper body apparently crushed beneath the front wheel of the Honda.

Among the throngs of onlookers on all sides were those who stood in stoic silence while others gasped in shock. Many recorded the carnage on cellphone video.

Authorities didn’t identify the deceased victim. Five others were taken to nearby St. Joseph’s University Medical Center with various injuries, they said.

Rasbin bailed out but was quickly captured, Valdes and Baycora said. 

No fewer than four ambulances were called to the scene.

The Passaic County Prosecutor's fatal accident unit was requested, along with forensic crime scene investigators from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office. New Jersey State Police were also at the scene. The area was cordoned off indefinitely.

Rasbin remained held Thursday on 16 criminal counts in the Passaic County Jail.

He's charged with aggravated manslaughter, death by auto, leaving the scene of a fatal crash -- as well as one involving serious bodily injury – along with five counts each of aggravated assault while operating a stolen motor vehicle, recklessly causing serious bodily injury and endangering an injured victim.

Rasbin also was charged with eluding, auto theft and driving without a license and has a first appearance scheduled for this coming Monday, May 23, in Central Judicial Processing Court in Paterson.

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