HOWELL – In what seems like a fitting end to the year 2020, a Township Police Officer pursued a Lakewood resident who ended up literally crashing into the Canadian border.
It all began around 10:45 a.m. on December, 31, New Year’s Eve when Patrolman Travs Horton attempted to stop a driver he observed driving erratically northbound along Route 9
The patrolman suspected the driver to be intoxicated and the pursuit was authorized based on the potential of immediate danger to other motorists. Traffic volume was relatively light and speeds weren’t excessive.
As Patrolman Horton pursued the vehicle on Route 9 he passed through Freehold, Manalapan, Marlboro, Old Bridge and Sayreville as the driver ignored his flashing lights. The driver later identified as 41-year-old Josef Bartol of Lakewood entered the Parkway heading north.
Patrolman Horton noticed his vehicle’s siren had failed around 11:05 when he was reaching mile marker 125.
As state policy prohibits a pursuit without a siren being activated, the officer ended the chase.
Criminal and motor vehicle complaints were signed against Bartol who was put on a wanted list in the national police database.
Howell Police was to learn hours later that Bartol was no longer wanted and that he was in the custody of Canadian authorities and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Bartol rammed his vehicle through the Canadian border and escaped on foot into Canada where he was later apprehended.
Bartol who remains in Canadian custody, claimed to have murdered his parents but this is not true according to Lakewood Police who checked their residence.
Whether Bartol had intended to leave the country before the start of 2021 is unknown. Canadian authorities suspect that Bartol may be suffering from a mental illness. He is expected be turned over to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.