MAHWAH, N.J. – A passenger arguing with a driver over the heat suddenly punched him in the face and grabbed the wheel, causing a crash that downed power lines across Route 17 in Mahwah before dawn Wednesday, authorities said.
Paul Jayme Jr., 36, of Neptune remained at the scene while the driver – identified as 35-year-old Walter Jarvis of Asbury Park – took off on foot after the Chevy Tahoe crashed just after 1 a.m. between a Valero gas station and West Ramapo Avenue, Police Chief James Batelli said.
Jarvis then called police from the gas station, where they picked him up, the chief said.
The pair were headed north when they got into an argument over the heat and airconditioning in the vehicle, Batelli said.
Jayme then punched Jarvis in the face and pulled on the wheel, sending the Tahoe off the roadway and into a utility pole, downing wires, before the vehicle came to rest against a concrete barrier, he said.
Jayme was charged with assault, assault by auto and DWI, refusal to submit to a breath test, driving with a suspended license and reckless driving.
Jarvis, who refused medical attention after complaining of pain to his hands and hips, received a summons for driving with a suspended license.
The vehicle was impounded and both men were released pending a court hearing.
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