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Wrong-Way Route 17 Driver, 79, Goes From Rochelle Park To Paramus

Paramus police
Paramus police Photo Credit: Boyd A. Loving

PARAMUS, N.J. -- A disoriented woman driving the wrong way on Route 17 before dawn Thursday passed Paramus police, who managed to stop traffic and get her to a hospital, authorities said.

Perhaps it was the hour, one responders said, but "it was a miracle that no one was hurt."

The 79-year-old driver -- who Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said was "suffering from an altered mental status" -- apparently pulled into the highway's southbound lane in Rochelle Park headed north around 12:30 a.m.

Her car hit the divider and rode it for about 10 feet before continuing on, responders said.

An off-duty officer driving on the other side of the highway notified police.

As a police dispatcher issued the alert, the woman drove past Paramus Police Officers Connor Nutland and Michael Focarino, who'd just made a traffic stop by the Garden State Plaza, Ehrenberg said.

The officers quickly chased down the woman and "guided her vehicle in the proper direction" just north of Route 4 near Ikea Drive while patrol units stopped southbound highway traffic north of Century Road.

The woman was later taken to Hackensack University Medical Center to be evaluated, the chief said.

"Great job by Paramus police getting that car pulled over and stopping southbound traffic," one responder said. "Someone could have gotten killed."

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