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Paterson Driver Wanted In Wild Sheriff's Chase Surrenders

Ernesto Rodriguez
Ernesto Rodriguez Photo Credit: MUGSHOT: Courtesy PASSAIC COUNTY SHERIFF

PATERSON, N.J. -- A Paterson driver who eluded Passaic County sheriff's officers after crashing a car during a mad chase turned himself in after a week on the run, authorities said.

Officers Michael Spadafora and Jasmine Currie were stopped at a red light at Straight and Essex streets just before 5:30 p.m. Jan. 26 when a silver Acura sped past them on the wrong side of the road and made a left turn through the light, Passaic County Sheriff Richard N. Berdnik said.

They pulled the car over on Essex Street at Madison, and the driver got out the car with his hands in the pockets of a mechanic's jacket, Berdnik said.

As he began walking toward their cruiser, the officers ordered him back into his car.

He got back behind the wheel and "suddenly drove up Essex Street at a high rate of speed," Berdnik said.

Blowing through a stop sign, he made a right from Essex onto Summer Street, the sheriff said.

Berdnik's officers chased the Acura down Chestnut Street, where the driver blew another stop trying to turn right onto Cedar Street -- and the Acura slammed into a Jeep.

He then bailed got out, dashed into Roberto Clemente Park and vanished, the sheriff said.

Detectives from Berdnik's Criminal Investigations Division identified the driver as 40-year-old Ernesto Rodriguez of Paterson.

He surrendered Thursday and was charged with eluding, unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and obstruction, the sheriff said.

He was then turned over to Paterson police on an outstanding traffic warrant, Berdnik said.

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