The January 19 fire was bad enough. So bad it closed down all lanes on the Garden State Parkway in both directions. It crippled the evening rush hour starting about 5 p.m. and created traffic chaos for at least the next 10 hours.

The fire that raged in a drainage culvert that runs underneath the Parkway and ramps around exit 91 was so bad it ran hundreds of feet long, threatening the roadway above. So bad that firefighters could only get at the flames through manholes and needed a foaming truck to pump fire suppressant through access grates in the median.

So bad that the New Jersey Turnpike Authority which operates the GSP had said repairs from this fire could cost $3.5 million.

All that was bad enough. Then we found out authorities believed it was arson.

Now we find out charged with that arson are two juveniles, according to authorities. New Jersey State Police said in a statement, “After starting the fire in the culvert opening on the south side, the suspects were seen running into the Evergreen Woods Park Apartment Complex, which runs parallel to the Garden State Parkway.”

According to authorities those juveniles have been charged with arson but also face charges of criminal mischief, defiant trespass, burglary and interfering with transportation. According to a story on detectives believe the pair also recently burglarized a New Jersey Turnpike Authority building near exit 91.

If prosecutors have a strong case, should this remain in the juvenile system or be waived up to adult charges? You could argue things just got out of hand. Yet this could have killed someone. This created a nightmare for literally thousands of tax-paying law-abiding citizens who were trying to get to their families and homes after being productive members of society all day. Only to be met with this.

I say waive these two into the adult system. Let them face the true reality of what they’re accused of doing. Anything less will likely result in probation which will teach them and other juveniles absolutely nothing. Waiving a case to adult court is serious business. But $3.5 million is a lot of money, arson is a dangerous thing, interfering with transportation is serious.

And this was bad enough.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.

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