Shortly after 1 p.m. on July 3, a Union City Department of Public Works waste management truck collided with three cars before crashing through a fence on Palisade Avenue and plunging from an overpass onto Route 495.
The crash injured a dozen people including the driver and brought holiday traffic on 495 in both directions to a complete standstill for several hours.
Several days after the incident, a video obtained by East Coast Private Investigations depicted the truck crashing into three cars from behind before crashing through a fence. The low-definition video doesn’t depict the truck making impact after flipping over onto Route 495.
Runaway DPW truck. ECPINJ is on the case.
Posted by EAST COAST Private Investigations of New Jersey on Tuesday, July 9, 2019
Drivers were encouraged by local law enforcement to avoid the Lincoln Tunnel, and use either the George Washington Bridge or Holland Tunnel instead. New Jersey traffic was being diverted through Hoboken.
The driver, Eulalio Diaz, told several news outlets that he was “lucky to be alive” after he lost control of the truck, and in an attempt to stop it, he drove into the fence to avoid crashing into additional vehicles.
Asked if he’d experienced a medical condition that could have caused him to lose control of the vehicle, he maintained that he was fine, but that the brakes on the truck failed.
Two days after the incident, Hudson County Prosecutor Esther Suarez tweeted that 11 out of the 12 people who were injured in the collision had been released from area hospitals. The 12th, Suarez said, was in stable condition.
She also said that the Hudson County Regional Collision Unit was still investigating the incident. She provided no further updates.
What caused Diaz to lose control?
In brief interviews, Diaz, who is recovering from a number of injuries, attributed the collision to a brake failure.
“I lost the brake, the truck kept on going, I couldn’t stop,” Diaz told WABC reporters. “I tried a lot of things, but it didn’t work.”
The findings by the collision unit will reveal exactly what, if any, mechanical malfunctions caused the July 3 crash.
In 2016, NJ.com published a story which confirmed that at least eight of Union City’s DPW vehicles were up to 15 years overdue for emissions tests.
Shortly thereafter, Union City Mayor Brian Stack vowed to ensure that all city vehicles would be inspected. He confirmed that the emissions inspections were overdue, and reported that all the overdue inspections were for emissions, and had nothing to do with brakes or tires.
Around that time, Stack reported that the city had just issued $4 million in bonds for upgrades to the public works fleet, and said that he’d directed staff to make inspections a top priority, requiring inspection information to be included in reports on the status of city vehicles.