By JAIMIE JULIA WINTERS
winters@montclairlocal.news

A Montclair Center Business Improvement District employee was sent to the hospital after a dump truck carrying salt hit an overhead wire, felling a traffic light pole, which then hit the man on the head during the Jan. 29 snowstorm.

The dump truck driver, Edwin Cruz from Edison Max Transport, was driving eastbound on Bloomfield Avenue with the bed of his truck raised as he distributed salt on the road, according to a police report. As he drove past Willow Street, the raised bed “snapped overhead wires, causing a light pole to collapse and strike” BID ambassador Christian Lawrence, who was standing outside his vehicle parked on the side of the road, the report states. 

The pole struck Lawrence in the head and back.

“Lawrence never lost consciousness, however, he was bleeding from his head,” according to the police report.

BID Executive Director Jason Gleason said Lawrence and another ambassador were out spreading salt on sidewalk ramps, which is a service that the BID provides during snow and ice storms. Gleason said Lawrence was transported to St. Joseph's University Medical Center.

Since Bloomfield Avenue is an Essex County roadway, and the county is responsible for distributing salt on it.  

Essex County Public Information Director Anthony Puglisi said that the intersection where the wires were stuck is in the process of being upgraded by the county. 

“The vendor working on the intersection had strung a cable from the traffic signal arm. The dump truck had its dumpster raised to allow the salt to fall to the back of the dumpster. As the truck passed under the traffic signal, the top of the dumpster got caught on the cable, which was hanging lower than the arm and caused the traffic signal to fall,” Puglisi said. 

Drivers salting county roads routinely raise their dump truck beds to get the salt to go to the back of the beds, he added. 

“This was an accident,” Puglisi said. 

The county repaired the traffic signal the same day as the accident. 

Cruz was issued a careless driving citation by Montclair police. 

Gleason said that he has spoken to Lawrence since the accident. He declined to provide Lawrence’s condition.

“But I was very happy to hear his voice,” Geason said. “We are all praying for his recovery.”

Gleason said Lawrence is a “very valuable part” of the ambassadors team of four. 

“The ambassadors have a thankless job. They do the work that no one would notice unless it disappeared,” he said. 

The four shovel and salt the intersections, water all the flowers in the district including the 112 flowering baskets throughout downtown, hang banners and keep the sidewalks and bus sheds clean.