EXCLUSIVE: Deal police captain impaired in fatal crash

Published February 26, 2016 by the Asbury Park Press

A Deal police captain killed Jan. 2 when he lost control of his car was impaired by a cocktail of illegal narcotics, prescription drugs and alcohol, according to official records.

Authorities found a dozen chemicals — including illegal designer drugs commonly known as “bath salts” — and more than twice the legal limit of alcohol in the blood of Capt. Earl B. Alexander IV, 38, according to documents provided by the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office following an open records request by the Asbury Park Press. The office declined to comment on the case.

Alexander, second in command of the Deal Police Department under Chief Ronen Neuman, was pronounced dead at the scene after his 2007 Acura TSX hit a utility pole on Norwood Avenue near Perrine Avenue in Ocean Township. State pension records show he served as an officer for 17 years. A Press archive story shows he was appointed to the department in 1999.

Efforts to reach Neuman were unsuccessful.

The official toxicology screen of Alexander’s blood found the illegal stimulant drugs ethylone, butylone, methylone, dibutylone, dimethylone and fluoroamphetamine, according to the report issued Feb. 18 by NMS Labs in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania.

“These are psychoactive drugs,” said Dr. Lawrence J. Guzzardi, a physician based in Hockessin, Delaware, who testifies in court as a medical expert. He specializes in toxicology and reviewed the report for the Press.

“They’re designer drugs, club drugs, bath-salt-type drugs,” he said. “These are very unusual drugs. I mean, I don’t know how this guy gets these.”

He compared the effects of the drugs to MDMA, Ecstasy or amphetamines.

Guzzardi said it wasn’t possible to determine whether the drugs were taken separately or as part of one dose, or when they were taken or how long they had been in Alexander’s system.

Alexander had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.19 percent, the toxicology report showed. A driver in New Jersey is considered intoxicated at 0.08 percent. Alexander’s blood-alcohol level was more than twice that.

“That’s very high,” Guzzardi said. “0.08 is legally intoxicated. So 0.19 is very intoxicated.”

Alexander’s blood showed signs of a prescription antidepressant sold as Lexapro, prescription sleep medication sold as Ambien, and amphetamine, which can be prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or narcolepsy, though it wouldn’t normally be prescribed in combination with the other two legal drugs, according to Guzzardi.

“It’s not a typical prescription given by reputable doctors,” Guzzardi said.

Alexander’s blood also contained diphenhydramine, the chemical found in the over-the-counter antihistamine Benadryl.

A person who took all these drugs would be “markedly impaired,” Guzzardi said.

“They would have loss of inhibitions, loss of impulse control,” he said. “They’d have impairment of night vision, depth perception, sensory perception. They’d have slower reflexes, poor coordination, difficulty doing divided tasks.”

“He would be arrested for DUI on the spot,” Guzzardi said.

Alexander was driving “at a rate of speed which was well in excess of the posted 35 mph speed limit,” according to a police report on the crash provided through the Open Public Records Act request.

The report concluded that his car was heading south on Norwood Avenue near Monmouth University. When reaching a “sweeping left curve” in the roadway, the car drifted toward the outside, scuffing the curb. The report said it appeared the car swerved left, then back toward the curb. The passenger front tire hit the curb and deflated. The car drove onto the curb, hit a utility pole and a 16-inch high stone wall, went airborne, rolled toward its driver’s side and hit another utility pole.

The police captain was the only occupant in the car. He was not on duty at the time of the crash, according to Ocean Township police Detective Lt. Timothy R. Torchia. Alexander was not going to or returning from work.

Hundreds of loved ones and police officers attended Alexander’s wake Jan. 7.  In addition to his position with Deal police, Alexander served as assistant chief of Deal Fire Company 2, was former chief of the Oakhurst Fire Department and was a volunteer with both first aid squads.

“He was just a good guy,” retired Sgt. Joe Lynam said at the wake. Lynam estimated he worked with Alexander for seven or eight years.

Lynam described Alexander as an unassuming officer who went about his business, who wasn’t one to seek out the spotlight. He said Alexander loved camping and NASCAR.

“He was excellent to work with,” Lynam said, “a good police officer.”

Press archives show Alexander helped pull a woman from a burning building in Ocean Township in December 2009.

His obituary, published by the Press, said he is survived by two children, Taylor and Earl V, and his wife, Julie Alexander. The obituary listed his parents, Sue C. and Earl III; his sister Lauren and husband Ryan Tillis and their son Corbin; and Krista Richter-DeLisa, “an important part of Earl’s family.”

“He loved his family and all of us love and miss him dearly,” the obituary said.