Jersey City firefighter charged with DWI after fleeing crash, cops say
In addition to DWI, Joseph Rettig was charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to report the accident
By Joshua Rosario
The Jersey Journal, Secaucus, N.J.
SECAUCUS, N.J. — The heat is on for a Jersey City firefighter charged with driving while intoxicated after he crashed into multiple cars near Hamilton Park and fled the scene, authorities said.
Joseph Rettig, 42, has been suspended without pay following the incident Sunday in which police say he crashed his Chevrolet Trailblazer into two cars parked on Erie Street, Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said.
The SUV was found unattended around 7 p.m. in a no parking zone on West Hamilton Place, at the entrance of Hamilton Park. The vehicle was missing a tire and the airbags had been deployed.
Wallace-Scalcione said Rettig was arrested at the Jersey City Fire Headquarters on Marin Boulevard, some four blocks away. A crash investigation report indicates Rettig’s blood alcohol level was 0.16 — twice the legal limit of .08.
In addition to DWI, Rettig was charged with reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident, and failure to report the accident. Rettig declined to comment on the charges.
Justin Ho was walking around the neighborhood with his girlfriend, Lisa Su when he saw Rettig’s vehicle being driven erratically.
“We saw this car just plow into this BMW, then into a Toyota Camry,” Ho said. “He kept gassing the car after hitting the Camry.”
Ho heard a loud pop when the SUV lost its tire before he flagged down a firefighter first responder vehicle in the area. Ho said he saw Rettig drive down Eighth Street three times — once the wrong way and twice in the correct direction — before parking the SUV on West Hamilton Place.
“He was going top speed the entire time,” Su said about the driver. “It was very bizarre.”
Su said people were coming out of their houses to see what was going on because of all the noise the vehicle was making.
Petrina Guayasamin was out for a run when she first heard what she described as a muffler dragging.
“I thought somebody had just hit a pothole,” said Guayasamin. “I did notice his license plate had a firefighter insignia.”
©2019 The Jersey Journal, Secaucus, N.J.