LODI, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — An alleged drunken driver charged in a crash that critically injured a Bergen County Police Department officer is out of jail.
Authorities said 36-year-old Michael Ettz, a Lodi High School math teacher and track coach, was released after posting $150,000 bail Saturday.
He faces numerous counts, including DWI, aggravated assault and leaving the scene of an accident with serious bodily injury.
The crash happened early Saturday on Route 46 westbound in Lodi.
Authorities said the officer, 39-year-old Daniel Breslin, was pulled over in the far right lane with his emergency lights on helping out another officer who was pulled over on the shoulder.
That’s when police said Ettz crashed his car into the back of Breslin’s police SUV.
Breslin was trapped in his cruiser and was eventually pulled out by emergency crews and rushed to Hackensack University Medical Center. He suffered a significant head injury and underwent surgery for a skull fracture and bleeding.
Detectives said after Ettz was helped out of his car, he fled the scene. He was found and arrested a short time later in the backyard of a nearby home, authorities said.
Many Lodi High School students Monday morning said they were stunned by the allegations against their teacher.
“He’s a very great person, very outgoing, caring and would do anything for anybody in need,” student Lebria Breks told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.
“I was just shocked to hear it because he didn’t strike me as somebody who would do something like this,” student Joseph Lafranca said.
“If the school is here teaching us to do one thing and now a teacher is going and doing another thing, what does that really say?” said student Christina Lafranco.
On the quiet block where Ettz grew up and still lives, neighbors described him as friendly and are eager to see the court proceeding play out.
“For the family, I’m sure they’re very upset about it,” said one neighbor. “I’m very surprised that he would do something like that.”
Meanwhile, Breslin’s fellow officers are rallying around the married father of two, who remains in critical condition.
Ettz is due back in court on Tuesday.
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