FIREFIGHTERS MUM ON CHIEF’S PAST, FUTURE

img_5216112209Emergency vehicles on the Oceanic Bridge during the rescue of Fair Haven Fire Chief Shaun Foley Sunday night.

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Yesterday had the feel of Black Monday at the Fair Haven firehouse.

Twenty-four hours after borough Fire Chief Shaun Foley plunged from the Oceanic Bridge into the the Navesink River, department members were visibly shaken and reluctant to discuss his drastic actions Sunday night. Only two people within the department, Deputy Chief Jim Cerruti and President Jim Butler, spoke with reporters at Monday night’s Fair Haven Borough Council meeting. But they didn’t say much.

“One of our top concerns is his well being,” Butler said.

Neither Butler nor Cerruti knew Monday night whether Foley, a 27-year-old who is also a dispatcher and special police officer in Rumson, was discharged as expected from Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune, where he was last reported in fair condition. Cerruti has filled in to take over Foley’s duties while the department conducts an investigation into Sunday night’s tumultuous turn of events.

Rumson police said that Foley, while driving his fire chief’s vehicle, hit a telephone pole on East River Road at about 5:51p Sunday night, and then left the scene on foot. He ended up more than three-quarters of a mile away, on the west side of the Oceanic Bridge, where a Little Silver police officer involved in the search for the vehicle’s driver tried talking him off the bridge.

Instead, Foley jumped over the bridge’s railing into the river, police said. He was rescued some 45 minutes later, after an array emergency responders, including the Coast Guard and New Jersey State Police, searched the water surrounding the bridge using helicopters and boats. Foley was fished out of the river about 300 yards west of the bridge, which was closed off to traffic while rescue crews scanned the area.

When redbankgreen visited the firehouse on River Road late Monday afternoon, the bays inside were quiet and the mood was somber. In the back room volunteer firefighters and their families drank soda and talked quietly; they had just returned from a funeral for a volunteers’ mother-in-law. Firefighters at the station said they would “absolutely not” talk about what happened with Foley, and deferred all questions to Cerruti and Butler.

But until the investigation within the department is complete, Cerruti said he can’t speak to any of the details. He wasn’t sure how long the investigation would take, either.

The department has four line officers qualified for the chief position in order to command an emergency scene or fill in for the chief, he said. Cerruti has been a deputy chief for three years.

He declined to say whether Foley has gotten into any legal trouble in the past.

“I can’t talk about that,” he said.

Cerruti also wouldn’t say what the potential consequences for Foley will be, limiting his comments to his own hopes for the young chief.

“I want to see him get beyond this and get better,” Cerruti said.

Rumson Police Chief Ricky Tobias said Monday that charges against Foley were pending.  First Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Peter Warshaw told redbankgreen his office was not involved in the matter.