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Man Refuses to Leave White Castle as Car Burns

Green Brook resident was allegedly drunk, had taken Xanax pills while his vehicle burned.

A car fire led to the arest of a man who refused to leave White Castle in Green Brook while his car burned in the parking lot.

Green Brook police took township resident Geoffrey Hammel, 55, into custody after the vehicle he drove to the restaurant caught on fire at 12:48 a.m. Nov. 4.

According to police, restaurant employees first saw the vehicle as it was in flames beneath an awning near the drive-up window. Employees evacuated the building, but Hammel refused to leave.

Police arrived and escorted Hammel outside the building. During interviews, he appeared disoriented and unable to explain how his 2008 Saab caught fire or why he'd left it and gone inside the restaurant.

He was taken into custody after failing field sobriety tests. A blood alcohol test performed at Warren Township police headquarters because the Green Brook department did not have power showed Hammel's blood alcohol level at .21 percent. New Jersey law defines a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher as intoxicated.

Hammel was charged with DWI, reckless driving, and possession of a controlled substance for Xanax pills he allegedly reported having taken. He was turned over to the custody of his mother.

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