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Police Tandem Avoids Route 17 Tragedy In Low-Speed Heroin User Chase

What turned into a low-speed pursuit continued for four miles before the driver exited at McArthur Boulevard and pulled into a dead end, police said.
What turned into a low-speed pursuit continued for four miles before the driver exited at McArthur Boulevard and pulled into a dead end, police said. Photo Credit: Googlemaps

UPPER SADDLE RIVER, N.J. -- Police from several Northwest Bergen towns thwarted a potentially dangerous incident Wednesday when they closed off a stretch of northbound Route 17 to stop a heroin-addled driver from Rockland whose car bounced off the center divider several times, authorities said.

Upper Saddle River Police Officer Kevin McWilliams, responding to another motorist's call, got behind the car around 12:30 p.m., Detective Lt. Edward Kane said.

"He kept hitting the center median at about 30 miles an hour," he said. "So the officer activated his lights and siren to try and stop him."

The driver -- identified as 25-year-old James D. Benasillo of Orangeburg -- kept going, headed toward the New York State border, Kane said.

Working in tandem, police from Mahwah, Ramsey, Saddle River and Upper Saddle River stopped traffic on the northbound highway and blocked the entrances during what turned into a low-speed pursuit.

With police ahead and behind him, Benasillo exited at McArthur Boulevard and pulled into a dead end, about four miles from where the chase began.

Benasillo -- who records show has a recent criminal history involving drugs -- had a hypodermic needle and several empty bags of heroin in the car, Kane said.

He was sent to New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus for detox before being transported to the Bergen County Jail pending a detention hearing.

Benasillo was charged with eluding, possession of a hypodermic needle and drug paraphernalia and DWI. He also received several traffic summonses, the lieutenant said.

The car was towed with front tire damage, as well as body damage from sideswiping the median, he said.

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