A Brick Township man told police he may have “blacked out” while driving due to the practice of deep breathing techniques, as officers continue to piece together the weekend crash, which sent one passenger to a hospital by medevac helicopter.
The crash occurred at 4:55 p.m. Saturday in the southbound lanes of Hooper Avenue in Toms River. According to police spokeswoman Jillian Messina, Thomas P. Zimmerman, 19 of Brick, was traveling in the left, southbound lane of Hooper Avenue, when he crossed over the double yellow lines, striking an oncoming Toyota Corolla head-on.
As a result of the collision, a rear passenger in the Toyota, whose name was not released, sustained severe head trauma and was airlifted to Jersey Shore University Medical Center.
The driver and another passenger in the Toyota were also transported to Jersey Shore Medical Center via ambulance for non-life threatening injuries. Zimmerman was transported to Community Medical Center for treatment and observation.
According to a statement from police, Zimmerman stated that he was practicing a deep breathing technique and may have “blacked out” prior to the crash. There was no indication of impairment or cell phone use, police said, and Zimmerman gave consent to submit blood samples to the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office pending toxicological testing for intoxicants. He also voluntarily consented to the searching of his cell phone and vehicle by Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office.
“At this time, it is believed that the serious head injuries sustained to the rear passenger of the Toyota is due to failure to properly wear a seatbelt,” the statement said.”
The crash remains under investigation by Toms River Traffic Safety Officer P.J. Gambardella and the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Vehicular Homicide Unit.