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Cops: Woman's Mask May Have Caused Crash

NJ police department walks back initial remarks after noting N95 mask could've led to accident
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2020 7:21 AM CDT

(Newser) – Police pointed to an odd possible cause of a single-car crash in New Jersey last week, though an "overwhelming response" on social media now has them pulling that back. ABC News reports cops responded to the scene of an accident Thursday in Lincoln Park and found a red car slammed into a wooden utility pole. The female driver was taken to a nearby hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Lt. John Clements tells the Daily Record. The Lincoln Park Police Department later posted photos on Facebook, as well as their speculation as to what happened. "The crash is believed to have resulted from the driver wearing an N95 mask for several hours and subsequently passing out behind the wheel due to insufficient oxygen intake/excessive carbon dioxide intake," the post read, adding that face coverings are "not necessary when driving a vehicle with no additional occupants."

The reaction caused enough controversy for the LPPD to walk its post back. "It was stated in the original post that we 'believed' the excessive wearing of an N95 mask was a contributing factor to this accident," reads the update. "While we don't know this with 100% certainty, we do know that the driver had been wearing an N95 mask inside the vehicle for several hours and ultimately passed out." The department notes there was no sign of the driver being affected by drugs or alcohol, but that it was "certainly possible that some other medical reason could've contributed to the driver passing out" other than the mask. It adds residents should still adhere to Gov. Phil Murphy's face coverings directive: "We are not trying to cause public alarm or suggest wearing an N95 mask is unsafe," just that "wearing ... this type of mask while operating a vehicle with no other occupants is unnecessary." (Read more N95 stories.)

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