The unfortunate event unfolded when Yusuf Bakmaz, a 19-year-old sophomore majoring in computer science at Montclair State University, missed the turn from Broad Avenue to Grand Avenue around midnight on June 24, according to Ridgefield Police Chief TJ Gallagher.
Traveling northbound, Bakmaz's 2002 Ford Mustang veered over the median, grazed another vehicle, and crashed directly into Karden, a recently opened restaurant occupying the former site of Chan's Dragon Inn.
Tragically, Bakmaz was pronounced dead at the scene. His girlfriend had managed to exit the vehicle but sustained serious injuries and was rushed to the trauma unit at Hackensack University Medical Center.
The occupants of the other vehicle involved in the collision were unharmed, as confirmed by Gallagher.
Promptly responding to the incident, local police and firefighters arrived first at the scene. Additional medical support was provided by an Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit from Hackensack University Medical Center, as well as emergency teams from NJ Mobile Health and Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck.
The County Sheriff's Bureau of Criminal Identification gathered evidence at the site before firefighters respectfully handled the removal of the deceased, subsequently transferring the body to the Bergen County Medical Examiner's Office. The Bergen County Prosecutor's Fatal Accident Investigations Unit was promptly notified.
One of the responders commended the exceptional coordination among all units involved, ensuring the preservation of the accident scene and the dignified handling of the deceased driver.
Following initial covering of the Mustang with a tarp, the vehicle was eventually towed away from the scene.
Ridgefield police are currently awaiting toxicology reports as part of their comprehensive investigation into the circumstances leading to this tragic incident, as witnesses had reported excessive speed of the vehicle, according to Chief Gallagher.