BMW Driver in Fatal Princeton Crash Had Troubled Past

The scene in front of Riverside Elementary after the crash last Thursday. Photo by Lynn Irving.
The scene in front of Riverside Elementary after the crash last Thursday. Photo by Lynn Irving.

When Eric Maltz drove a BMW down Riverside Drive and crashed into a Toyota Camry last week, he had a tank of propane gas in the passenger seat next to him, witnesses who were at the scene that day said.

One of the first things rescuers did was remove the gas tank from the car, people at the scene said.

The presence of the propane tank and other records obtained by Planet Princeton raise questions about whether Maltz intended to crash the car and harm himself or kill himself in the March 28 crash that took the life of Rabbi James Diamond and injured Rabbi Robert Freedman.

A law enforcement source said last week that Maltz had recently been released from a mental health facility. After he was treated for injuries sustained in the crash, he was committed to a psychiatric facility.

Police have not confirmed whether Maltz had the gas tank in the car with him as reported by witnesses, and have not commented on other details about the case because the investigation is still ongoing. Maltz has been charged with one count of death by auto and one count of assault by auto. His bail has been set at $100,000. His bail hearing had not been set yet as of this afternoon.

A Planet Princeton review of public records shows that Maltz, 20, struggled with mood swings and depression, and previously tried to hurt himself.

Police were sent to his home last month because he was destroying things, according to the public records obtained through the state’s Open Public Records Act. Planet Princeton requested any and all incident reports Princeton Police have on file for Maltz.

The police released a report regarding one incident last month. Captain Nicholas Sutter said there are other reports for Maltz he can not release, because they are reports from when Maltz was a  juvenile.

According to the March 21 report, Eric Maltz’s father called the police at 11:46 a.m. that morning to report that his son was acting out and throwing things around the house. The two had gotten in to a fight over his alleged marijuana use, according to statements in the report. Maltz became frustrated and acted out by trashing his room. He did not try to hurt himself or his father, according to statements made to police.

When three officers went upstairs to his bedroom, possessions were scattered across the floor and the room was trashed, according to police reports. Maltz was calmly sitting on his bed when police arrived, according to the reports. When asked what happened, he told police he was frustrated so he acted out by trashing his bedroom.

Maltz told police he sees two professionals for depression and mental health issues, and that he was taking two medications, Lamictal for mood stabilization and Zoloft for depression, according to police reports. He also told police that in September of 2012, he tried to hurt himself with a knife “however he did not want to hurt himself or others at this time.”

His father made a request to police that he be taken to the University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro for evaluation and mental health treatment. The Princeton First Aid and Rescue Squad took him to the hospital without incident, according to the police reports.