Posted on Thu, May. 7, 2009
By Troy Graham / Inquirer Staff Writer
CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – Three weeks after New Jersey State Trooper Robert Higbee blew through a stop sign while on duty, crashing into a minivan and killing two teen-agers, he told investigators that he remembered stopping at the sign and looking both ways before proceeding through the intersection.
“If only that were so,” First Assistant Prosecutor David Meyer told a jury yesterday. “I wouldn’t be here. You wouldn’t be here.
“Perhaps most importantly, Jacqueline Becker and her sister, Christina Becker, would be looking forward to spending Mother’s Day with their family.”
The two girls were killed that night in September 2006 at Tuckahoe and Stagecoach Roads in Upper Township. Jacqueline, 17, was driving. Her 19-year-old sister rode with her to get milk at a store.
Higbee, trying to chase down a speeder, crashed into them at 65 m.p.h., Meyer said during opening arguments in Superior Court. Higbee, who was suspended from the state police without pay, faces trial on two counts of vehicular homicide.
Meyer said that when the trooper spoke to investigators, he did not know his Ford Crown Victoria contained an “event data recorder,” which documented his speed and braking for the 25 seconds before the collision.
Meyer said the data showed Higbee topped 70 m.p.h. on a road with a 35 m.p.h. speed limit while in pursuit of the speeder. About 520 feet from the intersection is a sign warning of a stop sign ahead. The recorder showed Higbee touched the brakes lightly there, then accelerated again.
“He doesn’t slow down – he speeds up,” Meyer said.
Meyer said he was not trying to “Monday morning quarterback” a tough decision the trooper made in the heat of the moment. But he said there was no excuse for Higbee to drive through the intersection at that speed.
“Sometimes good people do bad things,” Meyer said. “This is one of those instances.”
Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 856-779-3893 or email@example.com.