rb crash 121815 2The scene on Wallace Street shortly after the accident, above. The vehicle also hit a gas regulator valve, seen below, though no leak was immediately detected. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)


rb crash 121815 1A campaign worker for an outlier presidential candidate was injured when a car jumped a curb in downtown Red Bank Friday afternoon.

The vehicle also struck a storefont natural gas regulator that had been moved above-ground three years ago, over the vehement objections by town officials that doing so created a safety hazard.

The injured man was identified as Marty Gray, 49, a Westland, Michigan resident working on the presidential campaign of Democrat Rocky De La Fuente, who was dining two doors away at Gaetano’s restaurant on Wallace Street when the accident occurred at about 4:15 p.m.

Witnesses said Gray was talking on a cellphone and either sitting on or standing in front of a bench outside Indulgence hair salon when a sedan jumped the curb, striking a one-way-traffic sign. The driver had been attempting to parallel park, witnesses said.

Gray was struck in the head by the sign as the car crashed into the facade of the hair salon and the gas valve, witnesses said.

The sign smashed through the front window of the salon, where state Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon was getting a haircut.

De La Fuente, who told redbankgreen that he and he team were enroute to New Hampshire to “crash the party” of the Democratic primary debate scheduled for Saturday night, said Gray suffered a gash to his forehead that would require 10 or 12 stitches, but was not seriously injured.

Gray was taken by ambulance to Riverview Medical Center Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune.

Police Chief Darren McConnell identified the driver as Elizabeth Minor, 21, of Eatontown. She was issued a summons for careless driving, he said.

Shortly before 5 p.m., authorities were awaiting the arrival of a crew from New Jersey Natural Gas Company before moving the vehicle, though there was no immediate evidence of a gas leak.

Fire Marshal Stanley Sickels said the crash was the fifth known accident in which a gas regulator valve was damaged in an accident since a controversial move by NJNG to relocate the devices to storefront from sealed pits in sidewalks. The borough and Red Bank RiverCenter sued to halt the relocations, and ultimately won a ruling on appeal that the gas company’s action was illegal. By then, however, the company had relocated almost 90 valves, and refused to re-create the pits.

“This is obvious evidence of why we feel the regulators were safer when they were in the pits,” Sickels told redbankgreen.