New Jersey Community Holds Vigil for Police Officer on Life Support After Alleged Drunk Teacher Crashes Into Him

The high school teacher accused of drunk driving in the crash has been suspended with pay

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A New Jersey community held a prayer vigil for a police officer who is on life support after he was hit by a high school teacher allegedly driving drunk last weekend. 

    Bergen County police officer Daniel Breslin suffered a severe head injury in the crash on Route 46 in Lodi on Saturday. The impact of the crash was so intense that Breslin was pinned in his police cruiser with head injuries and broken bones.

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    He has been in a medically induced coma since then. 

    At the Holy Trinity Church in Hackensack Friday evening, more than 100 visitors lit candles during a vigil for Breslin, a 39-year-old husband and father of two.

    "We are really focused on Danny surviving this," said Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins.

    "Wherever he goes, he fills a room, always has that big smile," he said. "That guy always does the extra effort." 

    Higgins said doctors have estimated a "50-50" percentage that Breslin will make it out of the coma alive. 

    Smaller vigils have been taking place around Breslin's bedside in the hospital, with friends, family and fellow uniformed officers arriving to pray for him. 

    The Bergen County Police Department has set up a fund to help pay for his medical bills.

    Meanwhile, the high school teacher who was arrested on drunk driving charges in the crash has been suspended with pay, according to published reports.

    The Lodi Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday to suspend 36-year-old Michael Ettz retroactively to Monday, reports the Bergen Record. Lodi schools superintendent Frank Quatrone also recommended that Ettz be suspended without pay if he is indicted by a grand jury.

    Police said Ettz slammed his SUV into Breslin's patrol car while the officer was pulled over helping a colleague with his radio. The suspect ran away after the crash but was arrested in a nearby back yard.

    Ettz was charged with aggravated assault, driving while intoxicated, leaving the scene of an accident, hindering his own apprehension and prosecution and obstructing the administration of the law, according to the Record. 

    The teacher's attorney, Brian Neary, told a judge in Hackensack that Ettz intends to plead not guilty to all of the charges, the newspaper reports.

    -- Brynn Gingras contributed to this report.