In 2002 Chris Christie, the Republican candidate for New Jersey governor, got lost while driving and turned the wrong way down a one-way street. He hit a motorcyclist. The bike fell on its side and slid under Christie’s rented BMW sedan, the Star-Ledger of New Jersey reported. But Christie, who at the time was the state’s U.S. Attorney, was not ticketed for the incident, the newspaper said.
Andre Mendonca, the motorcyclist, was taken to the hospital after the 2002 incident. Reached on Friday, Mendonca declined to comment, The Associated Press reported. Christie’s collision with the motocyclist is the latest revelation about the candidate’s driving record, which has become an issue in the race. Christie faces incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in November.
Christie campaign spokeswoman Maria Comella told The Star-Ledger, “This was an unfortunate accident and just like a lot of us, Chris knows he can always be a better driver.”
Elizabeth, N.J., Police Director James Cosgrove said that following the 2002 accident, Christie “did identify himself as U.S. attorney,” the Star-Ledger reported. When asked by The Star-Ledger whether Christie’s position influenced the officer’s decision not to ticket him, Cosgrove said, “I don’t think I want to make that kind of deduction, but I think the facts speak for themselves.” He added that the investigating officer had the option of ticketing Christie but opted not to. ”The officer has a lot of discretion at that point,” Cosgrove said. “He could’ve issued a summons in that case, but he did not.”
Christie recently denied reports that he may have tried to pull rank in a 2005 traffic stop, in which he was ticketed for speeding and driving an unregistered vehicle without proof of insurance. He said that while he didn’t mention his law enforcement position in the 2005 incident, a tow truck driver recognized him as the U.S. Attorney, The Associated Press reported. Christie said he was permitted to drive the unregistered vehicle home because his four kids were with him, not because he got favorable treatment as a prosecutor, The AP reported.
A spokeswoman for Corzine recently called Christie a “complete menace” on the roads last week. According to news reports, Christie was found guilty on 13 traffic tickets between 1985 and 2009, and was involved in six accidents between 1989 and 2007.
UPDATE: New Jersey Public Television and Radio correspondent Zachary Fink reports that Christie said, “Nope,” when asked Friday if Mendonca had filed a lawsuit. But according to the Superior Court Record Center in Trenton, Mendonca filed suit in 2004 in Essex County, Fink says. The lawsuit was dismissed, and a court clerk told Fink that indicates there was a settlement.