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Cops: Toms River Man Drove 70mph in Shoulder, Fled From Police on Foot

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Handcuffs (Shorebeat File Photo/ banspy/ Flickr)
Handcuffs (Shorebeat File Photo/ banspy/ Flickr)

A Toms River man is facing criminal charges after trying to allegedly escape a traffic stop by speeding 70 m.p.h. in the shoulder of a roadway before bailing out and fleeing on foot.

John C. McKenna, 43, was driving his 2008 Dodge Avenger on Route 9 in Howell when an officer pulled him over for an expired registration and an inoperable brake light, Howell Police Detective Sgt. Christian Antunez.

According to Antunez, McKenna pulled over to the shoulder of the roadway and fled from the scene as Ptl. Brooks approached the vehicle to speak with him. Ptl. Scott Brooks pursued the vehicle as McKenna is alleged to have driven approximately 70 m.p.h in the shoulder of Route 9. McKenna, according to police, then turned west onto County Line Road in Lakewood where he exited the vehicle and fled on foot near Forest Avenue, approximately one mile from the original stop.

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“A large scale search was conducted with the assistance of Lakewood Police and Georgian Court University Security due to the proximity of the campus to the suspect’s last known location,” said Antunez. “Citizens eventually witnessed the suspect enter a vehicle near 8th Street.”

Officers from Howell and Lakewood stopped the vehicle and found McKenna in the back seat, at which time he was arrested. The driver, 43-year-old Dina Gagen, identified as McKenna’s girlfriend, of Brick, was also arrested.

McKenna was also found to have an outstanding arrest warrant from Nutley, according to police.

McKenna was charged by Howell Police with second degree eluding police third degree hindering apprehension. Gagen was charged with fourth degree obstructing administration of law and fourth degree hindering apprehension. Gagen was released on a criminal summons pending court.

McKenna was transported to Monmouth County Correctional Institute and was also issued several motor vehicle citations including driving while suspended and reckless driving.