Suspicious scarf shuts NJ Turnpike service area
RIDGEFIELD — One of the New Jersey Turnpike's busiest service areas was closed on Wednesday after an NJ Transit bus driver saw something suspicious.
The item turned out to be nothing more than a winter scarf. But days after a botched terrorist attack in Manhattan, New Jersey State Police thanked the driver for phoning in the false alarm anyway.
NJ Transit spokesman Jim Smith said the driver of the 165 bus had completed a run from Dumont to the Port Authority and was bringing the empty bus back to a NJ Transit garage when the a scarf tucked under a seat caught their eye.
The driver pulled into the Park and Ride at the Vince Lombardi Service Area and called police around 8:15 a.m.
State Police Major Brian Polite said the service area was closed for about two hours while the bus was inspected by a K9 unit.
The incident comes two days after police said Akayed Ullah exploded a pipe bomb strapped to his body in a a passageway between the Times Square subway station and the Port Authority bus terminal. Ullah was the only person injured in the blast.
State Police were among the law enforcement agencies that used the occasion to reiterate their "see something, say something" message and praised the driver.
"The bus driver did a great job. He noticed something that did not belong there and he took the absolute right step and called State Police. That's what we want him to do, that what we want all the citizens to do," Polite said.
The service area is home to eight restaurants and shops plus a park-and-ride area. About 1.6 million travelers pass through the Vince Lombard service area every year.