MANCHESTER — It was a bad afternoon for a Seaside Heights man who rear-ended a vehicle and fled the scene only to wind up upside down along a road moments, police said.

Manchester police responded to a crash on Schoolhouse Road and Gardenia Drive in the Whiting section around 4:40 p.m. and found a 2019 Kia Optima on its roof and a pine tree on top of it.

Christopher H. Cornell Jr., 31, of Seaside Heights, was trapped inside.

The Optima was heavily damaged and Cornell had to be pulled out by rescuers.

Once Cornell was freed, police found drugs and they suspected him to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He was taken via medical helicopter to Jersey Shore University Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

Police said Cornell had rear-ended a Volvo a half mile away at the intersection of Schoolhouse Road and Route 530. He sped from the scene and lost control of his Kia, hitting the tree.

Driver impairment and unsafe speed for road conditions appear to be the cause of the crash, according to police.

Cornell faces several pending motor vehicle and criminal charges.

Dan Alexander is a reporter for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at

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