“[NJSP Trooper Robert Higbee] did not know his Ford Crown Victoria contained an “event data recorder,” which documented his speed and braking”


Posted on Thu, May. 7, 2009

Prosecutor: N.J. trooper reckless in crash that killed teens

By Troy Graham / Inquirer Staff Writer

www.philly.com

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.

[Snip]

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.

[Snip]

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 tgraham@phillynews.com.

17 responses to ““[NJSP Trooper Robert Higbee] did not know his Ford Crown Victoria contained an “event data recorder,” which documented his speed and braking”

  1. I can’t help but comment. I support law enforcement. the way I show that support is not with a bumper sticker, “get out of jail free” card in my wallet, or a “please look the other way” metal police emblem suction-cupped to the driver’s side of my windshield. I actually obey the laws. Speed limit, stop signs, etc.

    I will say that there is nothing more likely to generate an attitude of contempt for the law than seeing egregious violation of the law committed by those who are sworn to uphold it.

    Tailgating, riding the shoulder, speeding, chatting on the cell phone, illegal parking, you name it should not be OK just because the vehicle has pretty red and blue lights on top. It is an abuse of power.

    Just my thoughts.

  2. Nice to see that my earlier comment was removed. Truth is too painful to face, eh?

  3. I am a true supporter of Law Enforcement and Realize that out of all the Police Departments in the Country there is bound to be an accident with Injuries or God Forbid, A Death. I just hope the Officer was following protocol because if he was not, His department will toast him to put blame on hum.. All departments are like that… They will hang you out to dry.. I just hope he has Great Counsel and have the backing of the FOP, NPDF Etc… Just my opinion… Stay Safe
    Mike

  4. The trooper was going twice the speed limit in a 35 MPH zone and sped up through the intersection. He neither had his lights nor siren on. The trooper lied about coming to a stop and looking both ways. Both eye-witnesses and his on-board data recorder show he was lying.

  5. The trooper was following proper protocol. When closing the distance on a speeding vehicle, a police officer must actually speed. This is why the New Jersey Criminal Code has a statute exempting law enforcement from excessive speeds. In addition, he is not required to activate any lights or sirens when closing the distance. The Attorney General guidlines pertain to “pursuits” not closing the distance. The trooper “accidentally” missed the stop sign. Unfortunately, two people were killed. If this were anyone else other than a State Trooper, they would have received a traffic summons for failure to stop and nothing more.

    • Robert Higbee going to Jail Is not going to change anything,but I wonder If you would be so quick to just say “Unfortunately, two people were killed” If this was one of your relatives,If the laws allow a police officer to go through a stop sign at 65 miles a hour,then the laws have to be changed and rewritten in memory of these 2 young girls,was this famous speeder ever caught or brought to justice as well

  6. Thats only if they are white, and well off. Otherwise, yea they get the Higbee treatment.
    And I think they should change the “guidelines” , so that they activate lights and sirens when closing the distance. If only to protect the innocent.

  7. Johnny Law says, “In addition, he is not required to activate any lights or sirens when closing the distance.”

    With all due respect, this is asinine. We teach our children to be aware of sirens and look for lights. How can a police officer, sworn to protect the public, put them at such danger by not giving any warning whatsoever when engaging in behavior that puts the public at risk without any ability to detect that risk. The girls who were killed were doing nothing out of the ordinary when death swooped down on them with no warning whatsoever. Your excuse is pathetic and only angers sensible people all the more. Regardless the term used, what you amounts to negligence.

  8. Johnny Law said: “The trooper “accidentally” missed the stop sign.”

    That’s not what the trooper said. He said he stopped and looked both ways. Now you are telling me he missed the sign. Which is it?

  9. LET THE TROOPER GO TO JAIL HES A LIAR AND HE DESERVES EVERYTHING THAT COMES TO HIM,… IF IT WAS A NORMAL CIVILIAN THEY WOULD GET THE MAXX PUNISHMENT. AND THERE IS NO REASON WHY HE SHOULDNT ALSO

  10. I watch troopers speed up and down the state rd I live on every day. They are chasing no one. Hedded no where. We need police to police the troopers. They have become out of control. Some one please do something before more people get hurt for no reason.

  11. Yinz are all crazy. Kham turns this into a race issue with his post–obviously he’s black, that’s no secret. John DeVito disagrees with how NJ law is written, so he blames the officer who followed that law. Dana, the “normal civilian”, wants Higbee and all cops to fry….gee, I wonder how many times she/he has been arrested. Sour grapes. At least Tpr. Higbee was making an honest living, working to keep trash like you three safe.

  12. Regarding this quote by John Devito: “The girls who were killed were doing nothing out of the ordinary when death swooped down on them with no warning whatsoever.”

    Doesn’t death “swoop” down on the unexpecting all the time? Sometimes death gives no warning, whether one is ready or not….

    To quote Devito one more time, with one of his well-written lines above: “this is asinine”…and I’m referring to his “swoop” comment.

    • Beep. Get a life. I am disagreeing with the fact that there is an exemption that would allow an officer to disregard common sense safety and endanger others in this way.

      Death should not come at the hands of those sworn to protect us, regardless of what you say. Belittle me all you want, but I make an honest living and have since I was 14, which was many years ago.

      The fact that you are unable to actually defend the negligence is why you engage in ad hominem tactics in making your point, which only serves to invalidate what you say. I guess you must be a police officer since you obviously feel so threatened.

  13. Go Beep is obviously a racist right wing nut.

    “Kham turns this into a race issue with his post–obviously he’s black, that’s no secret.”

    You threw it out there first buddy.

    It’s absolutely ridiculous that this guy is going to walk. What happened to personal accountability? Screw being an employee of the state, two little girls are dead because he blasted through a stop sign at TWICE the legal limit with no lights or sirens. And if you’re such a stodgy cold hearted bastard that it’s “well that’s the law hurr hurr”, the LAW NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. Just because it’s written in a book somewhere, that doesn’t mean it’s right. How can you possibly defend a cruiser blowing through ANYWHERE at twice the legal limit without any warning to other citizens? If it’s official business TURN ON YOUR FREAKIN SIRENS AND LIGHTS. If you’re traveling at twice the limit WARN OTHER DRIVERS, especially if you aren’t going to stop at stop signs. I’m surprised I don’t here about more things like this happening, if this is actually acceptable behavior for law enforcement.

    But wait, let’s even forget about all of that…HE LIED ABOUT STOPPING. This is sickening.

    There definitely is some trash in this area, but it’s not those other posters…it’s people like Go Beep and this pathetic trooper.

  14. Becauuse of the carnage caused by police pursuit, NJ inacted Evading Police Laws that allow for penalties of up to 10 years for fleeing police while in a car. In return, Police are not supposed to chase minor traffic violators. That’s what police radios are for. Was Trooper Higbee the only police officer on the road? Was catching this speeder worth the life of two people? No. Higbee had no business chasing the speeder through a stop sign, especially without lights, and no business lying about it afterward.
    Did he deserve 20 years in prison? Probably not.
    The problem was that the prosecutor charged reckless, not negligent, manslaughter, a charge that brings about 3 years in prison time.

  15. Johnny Law said: “The trooper “accidentally” missed the stop sign.”

    Again, the point Johnny Law and Beep are ignoring the facts. The trooper lied about stopping. Then he said he missed the stop sign, when in reality the event data recorder shows he saw the “stop sign ahead” warning sign because he hit his brakes then. Then he decided to speed up through the intersection.

    So the trooper LIED about stopping. When he found out about the event data recorder he then LIED about missing the stop sign. He just kept lying and changning the story.

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