April 23 (Bloomberg) -- New Jersey State Police are investigating whether troopers escorted a “Death Race” convoy of Porsches, Lamborghinis and Ferraris speeding at 100 miles per hour to Atlantic City.
Witnesses said they saw two cruisers on March 30 escorting a pack of sports cars, according to two complaints filed with the authority that runs the Garden State Parkway.
“It shouldn’t have happened; it was a dumb thing to do,” Republican Governor Chris Christie said in his first public comments on the matter. “Those people who made this mistake should be held accountable for it, and I’m sure they will.”
A witness, Wayne Gantt of Little Egg Harbor, dubbed the incident “Death Race 2012” in his complaint. The State Police cruisers had flashing lights on, and the sports cars were weaving in and out of traffic and had license plates covered with tape, according to the complaints.
Former New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs was in the group, the Newark Star-Ledger said, citing an unidentified person with knowledge of the trip. Jacobs drove to Atlantic City last month, though it was unclear whether it was the occasion under investigation, his agent said today.
“Yes, he went down to Atlantic City in a group that included a police escort,” Justin Schulman, Jacobs’s Irvine, California-based agent representative, said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know, nor does he know, if that was his caravan.”
Jacobs, 29, was released in March by the Giants after seven seasons. He signed a one-year contract in April with the San Francisco 49ers.
The complaints filed with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which oversees the 148-mile (238-kilometer) Turnpike and 173-mile Parkway, spurred the investigation, said State Police Lieutenant Stephen Jones. He declined in a telephone interview today to go into specifics of the allegations.
Gantt, who didn’t return a voice-mail message left at his home, said in his complaint that “the state is very lucky no one was killed.”
“I had the great pleasure today of nearly being killed by, not one, but two, Lamborghinis traveling in excess of 110 mph in a NJSP-escorted ‘caravan’ of approximately 30 exotic vehicles all traveling well over 100 mph,” Gantt wrote in a March 30 complaint provided by the Turnpike Authority.
‘Above the Law’
John W. Kennedy reported the pack of cars on April 1, according to his complaint.
Kennedy said he and his wife were traveling to Atlantic City when the caravan approached as he drove in the left lane. After pulling over, he said, he saw many cars struggle to get out of the way of the police-led pack. Once in town, Kennedy said he spotted one of the drivers parked and removing the tape from his plates.
“I felt bad for all of the drivers pulled over during the trip, because it was obvious that the authorities were abetting others to break the laws,” Kennedy said in the complaint. “Some remain above the law.”
Kennedy, a vice president for Cofely Airport Services and a Madison resident, said in a telephone interview today that he didn’t want to discuss the incident.
“I sent a complaint based on an observation,” Kennedy said. “The fact that it was leaked was very disappointing to me.”
The Death Race incident was reported earlier by the Star-Ledger.
It’s not the first time speed has drawn scrutiny to the state police. A trooper driving then-Governor Jon Corzine at 91 miles per hour on the parkway in April 2007 caused a near-fatal crash. Corzine was the front passenger of the sports utility vehicle and wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. The trooper was sanctioned after an investigation found that he could have prevented the wreck.
Christie said the new investigation left him chagrined.
“I just shook my head, but what are you going to do?” he said. “It’s a completely ridiculous story.”
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