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Driver At New Jersey Car Wash Accidentally Hits Gas, Plunges Into Hackensack River

HACKENSACK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – A white SUV plunged into the Hackensack River Tuesday afternoon.

Surveillance video from the Spotless Car Care Center off River Street captured the shocking crash. The vehicle exited the car wash and drove towards workers with towels in their hands ready to dry it when suddenly it took off and barrels down into the water.

"When the vehicle was exiting the car wash, the driver mistakenly hit the gas instead of the brake, accelerating the vehicle off the embankment into the water," Capt. Justin Derevyanik of the Hackensack of the Fire Department said.

An SUV accidentally accelerates into the Hackensack River after leaving a local car wash. (Credit: @HACKENSACKFDNJ)

Police say a witness ran down to help the driver and passenger out.

"The car wash workers did help them back onto shore line and up the embankment," Derevyanik added.

Officials said the driver was 64-year-old Evelyn Asperilla of Teaneck. She sustained a minor injury to her leg. Her passenger, 27-year-old Carla Asperilla refused medical attention.

"You always have to be aware of where you are, always go slow, especially when there's a lot of people around," car wash customer Katie Merhige suggested.

"The tide was going out, so it was probably mid-tide and the Hackensack River has a very muddy bottom so when the car impacted the water it did hit the mud and didn't sink any further. When the car was removed from the water you see the damage and the mud dripping off the car," Derevyanik explained.

This is the second time the Hackensack first responders have responded to a similar incident at this location.

"There's no gate there to stop people?" CBS2's Meg Baker asked fire officials.

"As per what I was told by our building official it's not required, that would be up to property owner to do," Derevyanik replied.

No one from the car wash would comment on the incident or the property's lack of a fence.

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