Sparta residents were awakened early Sunday morning to the sound of a low flying helicopter that was being used by authorities to find a driver of a BMW that fled after crashing his car.


Sparta police received a report of the roughly 1:20 a.m. crash not from residents of East Shore Trail in the Lake Mohawk community of Sparta but from BMW services, who alerted police that a BMW 3 Series sports sedan had its airbags deployed while in their jurisdiction, according to Sparta Lt. John Lamon.


Lamon said when crews arrived, it was determined that a BMW had crashed into a rock wall in front of a resident’s house and also a telephone pole, but police did not see any occupants inside the vehicle. Sparta patrols called for assistance by the New Jersey State Police and surrounding towns, including Byram, Hopatcong and Stanhope, Lamon said.


The New Jersey State Police utilized its Northstar helicopter’s FLIR heat thermal camera to scour the area but did not have any luck, Lamon said. A K-9 dog was used in an attempt to track the person or persons and patrols eventually came upon a passenger who was inside the vehicle at the time of the crash. Lamon said he was found walking around a nearby street.


The passenger, whose name was not released by police but who resides in Landing, told police the driver’s name and phone number. The driver did not respond to calls from police, Lamon said.


The driver, whose name was also withheld by police but who resides in Glasser, had yet to respond to police calls as of Monday afternoon, Lamon said.


"A ton" of summonses have been mailed to the driver’s residence, Lamon said, with charges including leaving the scene of an accident and failing to report an accident. Should he not appear in court to face the charges, a warrant will be out for his arrest.


Authorities are continuing to investigate.


Lori Comstock can also be reached on Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH, on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/LoriComstockNJH or by phone: 973-383-1194.