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Police: 2 Arrested After NJ Man Iced Roadway In Attempt To Cover Up DWI Crash

SPARTA, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- Two New Jersey men have been arrested after police said one of them tried to cover up a drunken hit-and-run crash by making it look like black ice caused the accident.

Sparta police arrested Brian Byers and Alexander Zambenedetti early Saturday morning.

Hours earlier, police said Byers fled the scene after blowing through a stop sign and hitting a guard rail at the intersection of Sawmill Road and Woodport Road.

Zambenedetti later drove Byers back to the scene in his car where Byers then allegedly poured water all over the intersection, creating dangerous black ice, police said.

An officer patrolling in the area spotted Byers walking in the middle of Sawmill Road and found Zambenedetti sitting in his car with two, five gallon plastic buckets visible in the back seat with some water still inside, police said.

"I've never seen anything like this and I've been here 21 years," Sgt. John Lamon, Sparta PD, told CBS2's Lou Young.

Investigators said they later determined that men were going to report that the accident was caused by the black ice and not because Byers was under the influence of alcohol.

Police: 2 Arrested After NJ Man Iced Roadway In Attempt To Cover Up DWI Crash

"The original driver of the first vehicle that crashed and left the scene made an admission that that was their intent, was to blame it on the ice so they could collect insurance for the vehicle, for the damage to the vehicle," Sgt. Dennis Proctor told 1010 WINS.

It's not clear how many trips were made with the buckets of water, police said.

"You could actually see the skid marks underneath the water they had just put there, so we knew that they had dumped this water over the top of where he lost control of the vehicle rather than the vehicle losing control on the ice itself," Proctor said.

At the time of the incident, police said the temperature was 1 degree with a wind chill of negative 15. Public works crews had to be called to the scene where they applied half a ton of salt in order to make the roadway safe, police said.

"It wasn't the most thought out plan, no doubt about that," Proctor told WCBS 880's Jim Smith.

Drivers passing the scene were furious that the men would allegedly endanger total strangers with such a bone-headed plan.

"It's crazy. Crazy. Someone could have been killed," one woman said.

Byers was arrested on several charges including DWI, careless driving, leaving the scene of an accident and disorderly conduct for creating a dangerous condition by purposely icing the intersection, police said.

Zambenedetti was arrested after failing a series of field sobriety tests and was subsequently charged with DWI, careless driving and failure to wear a seatbelt, police said.

Police said he denied driving his car to scene despite the fact that he was sitting in the driver's seat with the engine running. He also denied pouring water on the roadway, police said.

Police said more charges are pending. Both 20-year-olds are due in court later this week.

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