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Dad Plays Hero To Son In N.J., Then Gets Unpleasant Surprise From Cops

Frank Roder's SUV Went For A Swim, But His 5-Year-Old Didn't Get A Scratch
Frank Roder's SUV

Frank Roder’s Jeep, seen here, rolled down a ravine into the Rahway River. (Photo: CBS 2)

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LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A near tragedy has turned into a traffic outrage for a Garden State father. The man saved his son from nearly falling down a steep ravine, but his SUV fell over instead.

And as CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis reported Tuesday, his reward turned into a pair of traffic tickets.

Frank Roder and his 5-year-old son, Aidan, will never forget their close call.

Last Thursday the two were headed to a park in Linden that overlooks the Rahway River, when Aidan, so excited, unbuckled his seat belt, opened the door, just like dad taught him, got out of their jeep and ran.

“Soon as we stopped, he just hopped out, without asking, without saying anything,” Roder said.

He stopped just inches away from the edge of the ravine.

“I just envisioned him hopping over, taking a tumble,” Roder said.

Catching Aidan in time, father and son looked up and saw their SUV rolling into the river, the front end submerged. It had never been put in park.

“The car fell in the ocean,” Aidan said.

“Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about it, you know?” his father added.

Tragedy had been averted, of course. The drop would have bee about 20 feet. Thankfully, Aidan had been rescued. The SUV, however, had to be fished out of the water.

But when it was all over there was a surprise for Roder.

“Two tickets. Yeah, my reward,” he said.

That’s right. Union County police slapped Roder with two violations: leaving his vehicle without a driver, brakes set or motor stopped, and failure to possess his registration.

It was in the Jeep, underwater.

“I was so in shock, it kind of got heated a little bit. It kind of got nasty. My wife was here. She started crying. You giving me tickets?” Roder said.

Police said they’re investigating, but had probable cause for the tickets, citing in the police report Roder’s SUV was “left in gear, in the drive position,” raising the question: did he total the Jeep on purpose?

“Of course I deny it. I wouldn’t bring my kid to do something stupid like that. Why would I put my kid in jeopardy?” Roder said.

He said the public can question him all it wants; his son’s safety is priceless.

A judge will ultimately decide if Roder’s tickets will stand. His court date is May 30.

Do you think the police overreacted? Please offer your thoughts in the comments section below …