LEONIA, N.J. -- A car came speeding around the corner of Leonia’s Fort Lee Road and Broad Avenue just as Jamie Sclafane was getting ready to cross with her 2-year-old daughter in a stroller.
Crossing guard Charlie Lee didn't hesitate, she said.
“He jumped in front of the car and demanded the driver stop,” said Sclafane, a member of Anna C. Scott Elementary School’s Home & School Association. “I couldn’t believe he did that.”
Lee mans one of North Jersey's busiest and most dangerous school crossings. Asked whether he was afraid of being hit by a car, the father of three proudly said: “One did already — Google it."
It was last May when Lee was knocked down by an SUV driven by the mother of the late R&B singer Gerald Lavert while trying to safely cross a group of schoolchildren.
Bridgette Pursley slowed down when Lee stepped in front of he silver Lexus RX 350, exchanged some words with him and knocked him down with the car, police said. She took off but later turned herself in, they said. Lee, meanwhile, was treated at a local hospital for minor elbow injuries.
Lee also once threw his body in front of a group of youngsters when a speeding cab mounted the corner's curb.
Thanks to GPS, the intersection has become a notorious cut-through between Interstate-95 and the George Washington Bridge less than a mile away. Daily congestion from Broad Avenue east is pretty much guaranteed.
“No one has to tell anyone around here how dangerous that intersection is and can be,” Detective Sgt. Chris Garris said, citing the death of a 60-year-old pedestrian who was dragged nearly 70 feet from the corner by a school bus in 2014.
“Interview the parents and they’ll tell you how much they love the man," Garris said. "He protects their children.”
Sclafane made sure to let the public know how grateful she was.
“I just want to say thank you to our wonderful crossing guard, Charlie Lee, who just jumped in front of a car making a rogue right hand turn while he was helping me cross Broad Avenue with my two year old daughter in her stroller,” she wrote on a Leonia listserv.
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