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Meadowlands to Morris and back: Chase ends where it began

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A fleeing motorist on parole led state troopers on a 90-mile loop from the Meadowlands to Morris County and back — hitting speeds of 80 mph — before being stopped a short distance from where he started. “It obviously wasn’t planned out,” State Police Sgt. Stephen Jones said of the route, which took pursuing officers from the Turnpike in East Rutherford, onto Route 80 westbound to Netcong, and then back the same way.

As TV viewers watched on MYFOX-NY, the driver finally got stuck behind a stopped SUV at the Exit 18E Turnpike toll booth around 9:15. At that point, troopers swarmed the car.

Jones said either the driver, Giovanni Petrov, 29, or passenger Vanessa Chavez, 26, both of the Bronx, threw a small bag of what may have been drugs out of the car early in the chase. They later tossed out a cigarette pack containing a small amount of pot, the sergeant said. Both are in custody as police figure out all the charges.

PHOTO: Courtesy FOX 5

New York and North Jersey TV viewers got a sight that Californians have become used to, as a chopper in the sky picked up the chase in Saddle Brook as the caravan headed eastbound.

A trooper on laser detail clocked Petrov speeding in the northbound western spur in East Rutherford at 8 a.m. The trooper tried pulling him over, “but Petrov kept going,” Jones said.

“One of them threw something out the window, believed to be a small quantity of drugs,” the sergeant said.

Petrov peeled off toward Route 80 west, eventually passing through the Paterson area, where troopers from the Totowa barracks picked up primary pursuit duties, Jones said.

As Netcong troopers took over, Petrov pulled off the westbound side of the highway and then circled back onto Route 80 east, the sergeant said. Totowa troopers then resumed primary pursuit duties.

Other departments in the country use tactics such as tapping a corner bumper with a cruiser, in an effort to send the car being chased into a tailspin. But Jones said New Jersey is far too congested to take such a chance.

Standard procedure is to wait out the motorist “as long as the person isn’t creating a hazard to others,” he said.

The various troopers involved conducted the chase by the book, same as they did the other night when a woman led them on a three-hour journey from Hudson to Middlesex County and back.

In both cases, Jones noted, a State Police helicopter kept the fleeing vehicles in officers’ sights.

Trading duties depending on where Petrov was, some troopers pulled up close while others fell behind. An officer in one of those “trail” cars found the pot, Jones said.

“Another happy ending, thanks to patience and prudence shown by the troopers,” the sergeant said. “They don’t always end that way.”

In yesterday morning’s incident, a Dumont woman held a passenger against her will during a 90-minute, 150-mile chase along the New Jersey Turnpike, at one point threatening to crash if troopers came any closer. (See: Woman charged after 150-mile chase )

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