Bayonne police helped search for JC officer Equipment from rescue vehicle found along shore

Bayonne dispatched officers and offered the use of equipment last week in helping to find one of the two Jersey City police officers who plunged off an open drawbridge on Christmas.

Although the body of Jersey City Police Officer Shawn Carson was found shortly after the accident, his companion in the Emergency Services truck, Police Office Robert Nguyen, was not recovered until Thursday, prompting a search down the length of the Hackensack River and Newark Bay.

Police officers and civilians walked along the shoreline searching every nook. Volunteers took up posts with binoculars along the shore to watch for signs of anything on the surface of the ward.

For several days, the search proved emotionally draining because police and others found clues to the lost officer at various places along the Bayonne shore, but not the man.

Bayonne police officials said pieces of equipment from the truck were recovered from the shores of Bayonne as far south as the site of the former Elco Marina near West Eighth Street in Bayonne.

Recovered in Bayonne near the 16th Street Park was a boot and a canister of mace both believed to belong to the officers who died. Police also later found a notebook belonging to the missing officer.

Police Director Mark Smith said the tragedy struck the department hard, saying that extra officers volunteered to join the search, although the investigation remained in the hands of Jersey City Police, the State Police, and the Coast Guard.

“We sent officers and we have offered equipment,” Smith said. “These were fine young officers, and if there is anything that we can do, we will do it.”

Scoured The area scoured was the Bayonne shoreline from the still-unopened North 40 Park just north of Stephen Gregg County Park to the Bayonne Bridge at the southernmost tip of Bayonne.

Equipment was deployed throughout Hudson County, including from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as well as the New York City Department, the Union C

ity Police Department, Hudson County Sheriff’s Department, and the New Jersey Transit Police.

The tragedy occurred when the two officers from the Jersey City Emergency Services Unit drove toward Kearny to provide flares and other traffic safety equipment. In driving from the Lincoln Highway Bridge that connects Kearny with Jersey City, the officers were apparently unaware that the bridge’s warning system was not in operation and that the drawbridge was at that moment opening to allow a tug boat to pass along the Hackensack River.

Despite yelling from other officers to warn the officers, the police vehicle plunged into the turbulent water below. Police said that a female police dispatcher who was in contact with the vehicle at the time of the plunge began calling immediately for assistance.

Ted Connolly, who serves as a Bayonne councilman and the director of the Hudson County office for 911, said dispatchers there also had been affected by the tragedy.

“While my people are civilians, they’ve become close to many of the officers, and this affects them as well,” he said. “This also brings home the reality of the mortality these officers face.”

Emotional search The body of Carson was removed from the truck about two hours later and the vehicle with smashed windows was brought up by a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ crane.

“I don’t know how to explain the sense of loss we feel throughout our department,” Smith said. “I’m not sure we can express it in words.”

Smith said when Bayonne received the call, the department coordinated with Jersey City and sent personnel.

“This is a real tragedy,” he said. “Many of our people are volunteering to help. It has moved people here that much.”

Contact Al Sullivan


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