New Jersey tractor cab mystery, involving bloodied woman, found to be misunderstanding

Police have reportedly obtained additional surveillance video showing the man and woman together before the incident.

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Friday, August 5, 2022 5:02PM
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South Brunswick Police determined that a big rig truck, believed to be involved in a possible abduction of a woman, was a misunderstanding.

SOUTH BRUNSWICK, New Jersey (WPVI) -- An all-out search to find a big rig truck and its driver, believed to be involved in a possible abduction of a woman in New Jersey, turned out to be a big misunderstanding.

The search began when South Brunswick police said they responded to Route 130 near the Dayton Toyota car dealership around 2 p.m. Wednesday, after receiving a report of a woman seen yelling for help inside a white tractor-trailer cab.

A witness told police they saw a woman bleeding from her face and a male truck driver pulling her back into the cab as it headed to Route 130 south. The witness then said the truck got off at the Ridge Road exit.

Detectives recovered video Wednesday that showed the tractor-trailer cab on Route 130.

"You look at a video like this and the hair starts to stand up on the back of your neck a little bit and say, 'You know what? This is something, we really gotta look into this,'" South Brunswick Det. Sgt. Timothy Hoover said.

But what many feared as a kidnapping or incident of domestic violence turned out to be a huge misunderstanding.

The story was so compelling that investigators got tips from across the country. But the break in the case came from Gabrielli Truck Sales, a truck parts store located on Route 130 near where the incident took place.

Workers thought the description of the man and woman sounded familiar, so they checked their video. Turns out, the pair had bought a battery there minutes before the incident. The video allowed detectives to identify the truck as well as the woman.

"There's a lot of trucks out there, there's a lot of trucks," said John Efthimiades of Gabrielli Truck Sales. "(In) the initial video, they couldn't read the logo. So they had another video. When they figured out they were here, they got a better shot of the truck."

After a search stretching more than 24 hours, detectives located the truck and the man and woman seen in the video. They were found in Woodbridge just after 5 p.m. Thursday.

Shortly after, the man and woman agreed to come to police headquarters, where the true series of events came to light.

It was determined by South Brunswick police that the woman had fallen and hit her head while standing in the moving truck, causing severe bleeding.

The truck stopped abruptly and the woman called out for help, but the driver pulled her back in and rushed off to get to a hospital.

They instead stopped at a warehouse where they had friends and put pressure on the wound and stopped the bleeding.

Police determined this through selfies and text messages sent by the woman during the ordeal. The man and woman never had any idea they were the subject of a massive search that spanned locations in Middlesex and Union counties.

"Too often in our profession outcomes are sad," said Deputy Chief James Ryan of the South Brunswick Police Department. "The fact that she's safe, the fact that we have all the parties here, we'll take success when we can."

Authorities said they made significant progress in the investigation after receiving several pieces of video and tips from the community which helped police build out a timeline of events leading up to and after the incident.

In the end, the incident turned out not to be criminal at all, but police said that it shows the system works.

"All these different partners came together and this shows collectively if we rally around an issue, we can make a positive outcome," Ryan said.