Ex councilman has medical episode while out driving

Photo Courtesy of Kate Sheehy
The vehicle being driven by former Bloomfield councilman Gary Iacobacci is taped off by police after it hit several cars then crashed into a meat store. Iacobacci had suffered heart trouble, said a relative.

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — A car being driven by former Bloomfield Councilman Gary Iacobacci, 62, crashed into a Broad Street storefront just south of Watchung Avenue during the late morning of Thursday, July 26.

According to former Bloomfield Councilwoman Janice Litterio, whose son Brian was a front-seat passenger, Iacobacci suffered a medical emergency involving his heart, but said it was uncertain if it was a heart attack.

Bloomfield Public Safety Director Sam DiMaio said Iacobacci was revived by the first police officers on the scene using a defibrillator and CPR.

In a Tuesday, July 31, telephone interview, Litterio said Iacobacci, who had been taken to Mountainside Hospital following the accident, had been transferred to a Morris County facility.

She said he had called her the day of the accident to ask her if she wanted to go for a walk in Brookdale Park. Litterio said they both belong to a walking club. She could not accompany him, but said her son Brian would go. Iacobacci picked up Brian at his home.

According to Litterio, they later saw someone in Brookside Park by the name of Sal and Iacobacci picked him up to take him to work. Riding south on Broad Street, while talking about a TV program, Iacobacci’s head slumped forward. His car crashed into Mastriano Prime Meats and Poultry, at 1058 Broad St.

Ginamarie Mignone, Iacobacci’s niece and the principal of Fairview Elementary School, said she has been seeing her uncle every day since the accident. She said he had been transferred to Morristown Medical Center. He did not remember anything about the accident and was surprised when he woke up in a hospital. Mignone said her uncle had a cardiac arrest.

“His electrolytes were low,” she said. “His heart stopped. He was at Brookdale Park exercising.”
Now that her uncle has been stabilized, she said the doctors will begin to determine what happened.
“He’s getting better every day,” she said.

Next door to the crash site, in the Brookdale Barber Shop, owner Fred Ardizzone said his store trembled from the impact and he could hear glass shattering. He said two cars and one truck had been hit by Iacobacci’s car.

“The first thing I noticed is a girl running from a car struck in the back,” Ardizzone said. “She collapsed.”
Ardizzone ran outside and helped her up. He noticed that her airbag had deployed.
“My mouth hurts,” she told him.

Ardizzone told her not to move and ran back to the shop for a towel. He noticed that people were trying to remove the driver from the crashed car. Ardizzone told a woman standing nearby to stay with the woman who was hurt.

“A cop tried to get the driver out, but couldn’t,” he said. “There was a kid in the front seat and he kept asking what’s the matter. There was a big, tall guy in the back seat. A cop asked if the driver had a medical condition and the guy in the back seat said he had a stent.”

Ardizzone said three cars and one truck were involved in the accident. He had about seven men in his shop at the time of the accident.

In the meat and poultry store, co-owner Eddie Milano said the accident happened around 11 a.m.
“There were no customers in the store,” he said. “It just happens sometimes you get a lull. The mail carrier just left two minutes earlier.”

Milano said his father knew Iacobacci.
“I didn’t realize it was him,” he said. “Someone in the barber shop recognized him. I played on his Little League team years ago.”

No food was lost and no machinery damaged, Milano said. The store reopened the next day with a plywood front.
“A temporary storefront doesn’t help business,” he said.

Mignone said the response from the town has been tremendous with her uncle having many visitors. Litterio said Iacobacci has always been a good friend to her family and her boys.

“He gives from the heart, so we’re hoping the best for his heart,” she said.