NJ 2016: Terrorism, train crash and tough times for Christie
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had hoped that 2016 was the year he’d be elected president.
Instead, it was a year of rough headlines for the Republican, as he ended his campaign, was made fun of for his early support of fellow Republican Donald Trump, and then was dragged into the headlines for weeks of coverage of the George Washington Bridge lane-closing trial.
The year in New Jersey also included a hunt for a terrorist, a deadly train crash in Hoboken and more struggles for Atlantic City.
A look at the year that was:
CHRISTIE’S TOUGH YEAR
Christie quickly became the biggest Republican name to throw his support behind Donald Trump after ending his own campaign.
But by the last few months of the year, with an appointment to Trump’s Cabinet off the table, Christie was back to being focused full-time in New Jersey, including again investing himself in efforts to fight and treat drug addiction.
Just like the year started with a political loss, it ended with one as well: an attempt to let him profit from a book deal while in office at the same time as raising pay for legislative staffers, judges and other workers failed.
Christie also saw his political legacy severely damaged with the conviction of two of his former aides in the Bridgegate case.
The trial of Bill Baroni, Christie’s deputy executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Bridget Kelly, Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, remained in the news throughout September and October. Allegations swarmed that he knew about the lane closings while they were ongoing and had approved of a traffic study (later revealed to be a cover-up) a month ahead.
Christie insists that testimony was wrong and maintained that the jury’s verdict confirmed he was correct to fire Kelly and Baroni. Not mentioned was that Baroni, along with self-described mastermind David Wildstein, was allowed to resign.
Christie hasn’t taken a question from the New Jersey press since the verdicts.
NEW YORK/NEW JERSEY BOMBING
It started with an explosion in a trash can on the course of a military charity run at the shore. But by the end of a weekend in September, after an explosion in Manhattan that injured more than 30 people and the late-night find of a bag filled with pipe bombs at a train station in Elizabeth, the region was in the middle of a full-scale hunt for a terrorist.
That search came to an end the next morning with a shootout in Linden after police found the man prosecutors say planted those bombs, Ahmad Khan Rahimi.
The Afghan-born U.S. citizen who lived with his family above a fried chicken restaurant they own in Elizabeth is now in federal custody, facing federal terror charges in both states along with attempted murder charges after prosecutors say he shot two police officers while trying to flee.
HOBOKEN TRAIN CRASH
Fabiola Bittar de Kroon dropped off her toddler daughter at a daycare in New Jersey on a late September day and then took off — she was in a rush to catch the train.
A short time later, a New Jersey Transit train traveling more than double the 10 mph speed limit slammed into the Hoboken Terminal. De Kroon was killed by the falling debris on the platform and more than 100 other people were injured in the crash.
The deadly crash remains under investigation but questions have been raised about what role the lack of an automatic train control system, the engineer’s undiagnosed sleep apnea, and a bumping post that was more than 100 years old played in the accident.
ATLANTIC CITY’S STRUGGLES CONTINUE
Another year, another closed casino in Atlantic City.
The troubled gambling resort saw the Trump Taj Mahal casino close, putting a final end to Trump’s legacy in Atlantic City.
What Trump once described as the “eighth wonder of the world” closed in October after a long strike by the main workers’ union there. It was the fifth casino to close over the last two years.
It wasn’t all bad for Atlantic City: Voters in November shot down an attempt to build two casinos in northern New Jersey. Opponents of the measure said it would likely have dire consequences for Atlantic City.
The city’s finances, though, still remain a mess. A yearlong battle between local and state government officials ended with Christie appointing an overseer to manage things there.