Tragic drawbridge accident still haunts Findings in officers’ deaths to be announced at press conf. Tuesday

There was more closure at the end of last week in the tragic deaths of Jersey City police officers Shawn Carson, 40, and Robert Nguyen, 30. Carson and Nguyen were traveling back to Jersey City the night of Dec. 25 after working on the Lincoln Highway Bridge, which connects Jersey City and Kearny. They were not aware that the drawbridge was up and the warning lights were out, and their Emergency Services Unit vehicle plunged into the Hackensack River.

Both apparently died from the impact, but Carson’s body was found in the car two hours after the accident and his funeral took place on Dec. 30. Nguyen’s body was found down the river on Dec. 29 and his funeral was scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 7 at 9:15 a.m. at the Jersey City Armory on Montgomery Street.

Amidst the grief and sorrow, there are still questions as to why the accident occurred. Some questions will be answered at a press conference scheduled for Tuesday, where Police Chief Robert Troy will announce the findings of an investigation of the accident.

Carson was a 16-year veteran of the Jersey City Police Department. Nguyen had been a police officer for six years.Mourning the loss

The viewing of the late Robert Nguyen’s body took place on Thursday and Friday, Jan. 5 and 6, at the McLaughlin Funeral Home on Pavonia Avenue, near the Journal Square PATH Station.

Family members and police officers from Jersey City and other departments across the state showed up to bid a last farewell to a colleague and friend.

The previous week, Nguyen’s late colleague, Shawn Carson, was showered with words of praise and sorrow by loved ones at both his viewing and funeral held at the Mount Olive Baptist Church on Arlington Avenue.

Like his late colleague Carson, Nguyen is expected to receive posthumously the city’s Medal of Honor and the New Jersey Fraternal Order of Police Medal of Honor.

The funeral parlor was reflective both of Nguyen’s identity as a police officer and of the Buddhist faith he followed.

There was a flower display near his coffin spelling out his badge number “2805,” and two tables also near the coffin – one with displays of fruit and incense and a picture of Lord Buddha, the other also with a fruit and flower arrangement but with a picture of Nguyen in his police uniform.

For Nguyen’s Saturday scheduled funeral, there were slated to be six Buddhist monks conducting the service, complemented by official police honors for Nguyen.

Keeping watch over him in the parlor on Thursday was his mother, a teary-eyed Bichvan Nguyen, who accepted condolences from visitors as she spoke barely above a whisper. Remembering Shawn and Robert

JCPD Detective Sean Connors attended Nguyen’s viewing on Thursday and planned to return Friday. Connors shared his memories of both Carson and Nguyen.

“Robert was a good cop, a hard worker, always willing to go the extra mile. He was my partner for two years in the Special Investigations Unit,” Connors said. “[He was] a lot of fun, he always wanted to eat, and we always laughed together.” As for Carson, “We didn’t work together, but I would see him on Central Avenue near where he lived, or at Pershing Field where he would do sprints and I would do long-distance running. [He was] always easygoing and was well loved by the Central Avenue merchants.”

Mayor Jerramiah Healy also paid his respects to Nguyen on Thursday and spoke afterwards to the press about the two officers.

“We lost two great police officers and two even better human beings,” said Healy.

Healy had a personal connection to both officers, with Nguyen a former classmate of one of Healy’s sons and Carson a track coach to both of Healy’s sons.

“[Carson] patrolled the North District where I lived, and I used to see Shawn probably every 10 days, two, three days a month out on patrol. He was always high energy, always uplifting, always had a smile on his face,” said Healy. “Robert was the only police academy cadet out of the Somerset Police Academy to finish number one in academics, number one in physical training and number one in firearms. That’s never happened, and that was Robert Nguyen.” What happened Christmas night?

The night of the accident, the two officers were part of a team of Jersey City police who were stopping traffic on the that connects Jersey City and Kearny because the bridge’s warning gate, steel barrier and warning lights on the Kearny side of the bridge were inoperable that evening, and the bridge was raised to let through a tug boat on the Hackensack River.

The two officers were finished laying flares on the Kearny side of the bridge and got into their vehicle to travel back to Jersey City when the accident occurred. According to authorities, the two officers were unaware that the bridge was still up.

It has been reported that because of poor visibility on the bridge due to rain and fog, the police officers were driving in their Ford F550 Truck and apparently could not see flash lights and police officers signaling to the officers that the bridge was up.

One source said that officers still on the bridge were distracted by an individual claiming to be robbed near the bridge, and they realized too late that Carson and Nguyen were driving over the bridge back to Jersey City.

Also, there was the problem with radio communication, as Jersey City police were unable to contact the officers since different channels are used to communicate amongst different units, and the bridge operator cannot communicate with police directly but only to a police dispatcher. The aftermath

Jersey City police announced on Dec. 29 that an internal investigation was being conducted.

Thursday, outside the McLaughlin Funeral Home, Troy would only say that a press conference would take place on Tuesday.

A source close to the situation said that the investigation had already been completed as of early last week, and that the JCPD was just waiting for the funeral of Nguyen before making any statement.

As for the bridge, the Department of Transportation said recently that they are still working on the wooden arm and steel barrier on the Kearny side that prevents traffic from entering when the bridge is raised. Since the accident, the DOT has been using four dump trucks to block the entrance to the bridge.

There has not been any word yet on when the repairs will be completed. Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at


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