The massive traffic jam allegedly created as an act of political retribution by staffers for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie delayed vehicles responding to a medical emergency in Fort Lee. In one instance, a 91-year-old woman later died.
That detail comes from The Bergen County Record, the newspaper that on Wednesday morning broke news that a senior Christie aide had been involved in some way in causing traffic in the town to be jammed. By closing several on-ramp lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge, traffic backed up into Fort Lee, delaying commuters for hours and snarling schoolchildren on their first days of a new school year.
But worse things happened:
Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department.
The woman later died, borough records show.
Whether or not a more timely response would have saved the unnamed woman's life isn't clear, but the paper indicates that she later died of cardiac arrest at the hospital.
Update, Thursday: The woman's daughter, Vilma Oleri, spoke to The Times and indicated that she felt the traffic didn't play any role.
“We believe she died in her home, but they couldn’t pronounce her until she got to the hospital,” said Ms. Oleri’s husband, Frank Oleri. “The traffic didn’t make any difference.”
Overall, response times doubled. When it would normally take under four minutes to reach an emergency situation, during the traffic jams last September, times were closer to seven to nine minutes — including seven minutes to reach that woman.
On Wednesday, Mother Jones reported that the traffic problems also prevented searchers from looking for a four-year-old who had gone missing. "The police had trouble conducting that search because they were tied up directing traffic," a Fort Lee councilman said. The child was later found.