SPARTA, N.J. (AP) — A man poured water onto a freezing road to try to fool police officers into thinking the cause of his drunken car crash was black ice, authorities said.
Bryan Byers hit a guardrail after running a stop sign in a BMW early Saturday morning, police said. Shortly after the crash, they said, a friend, Alexander Zambenedetti, showed up in his own car and they then dumped 5-gallon buckets of water onto the road to create black ice, a thin film of ice that’s transparent enough for the roadway to be seen through it.
An officer on patrol in the area saw Byers walking in the road and Zambenedetti sitting in his car with two buckets of water in the back seat at around 2:45 a.m., police said. Zambenedetti wasn’t wearing a shirt despite a wind chill of 15 below zero, they said.
Byers, who lives in Sparta, confessed to the plan, which left skid marks visible under the thin layer of ice at the intersection, authorities said.
Byers was arrested Saturday and was charged with drunken driving and other offenses. His friend also was charged with drunken driving.
Byers could not be reached for comment by telephone Tuesday. Zambenedetti didn’t immediately return a phone call. Both men are due in court Thursday.
Police said it took a half-ton of salt to melt the ice and make the road passable.
“I’ve seen a lot of dumb stuff,” police Sgt. Dennis Proctor said. “But not this dumb.”
The officer who initially saw Byers running toward his friend’s car, also a BMW, believed that he was a deer or maybe a bear on the road, Proctor said.
He said Byers drove his car to his home, about a half-mile from the crash, after hitting the guardrail before returning. But the officer said Byers’ car’s license plate was still on the road.
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