Police Investigate Toms River Car Accident, Was it Vehicular Homicide?

Police in Toms River, New Jersey are currently investigating a car accident that left one dead and one injured. The question remains, will they charge the driver with vehicular homicide?

According to a statement from the Toms River Police Department, 60-year-old Toms River resident Manuela Morales-Torres was struck by a 76-year-old woman driving an SUV on Sunday, October 5th. A man, age 62, was also struck at the time.

Sadly, Morales-Torres died after being hit at approximately 5:50 p.m. while crossing the intersection at Terrace and Hooper avenues. The man who was struck was also crossing the street and sustained multiple injuries. The driver was reportedly traveling east on Terrace Avenue and turning left at a green light onto Hooper Avenue. It has yet to be determined whether the victims were in the crosswalk when the collision occurred.

As the investigation continues, it remains to be seen if authorities choose to file criminal charges against the driver. Under certain circumstances, a driver accused of killing someone with their car will be charged with vehicular homicide, or death by auto, in New Jersey.

In order to be convicted of death by auto in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:11-5, the State must prove that a person was driving a vehicle recklessly and caused the death of another person. The “reckless” component of the offense is crucial for a vehicular homicide charge to stick. To be considered driving reckless, a person must be operating a motor vehicle with wanton disregard for the rights or safety of others, in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger a person or property.

For example, if a person if driving while intoxicated, they are presumed to have been driving recklessly under NJ law. If the reckless driving requirement in a death by auto case is satisfied, a conviction can result in up to 10 years in NJ State Prison and a fine of up to $200,000. There is also a mandatory minimum period of parole ineligibility set at 85 percent of the sentence imposed for vehicular homicide.

Charged with Death by Auto in Toms River, New Jersey?

If you or a loved one is facing charges for death by auto or assault by auto in Toms River or elsewhere in Ocean County, New Jersey, the consequences of a conviction can be devastating. At William Proetta Criminal Law, our criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to formulating the best defense strategy for your case. With offices in Toms River, we defend clients in the area on a regular basis. Contact us at (848) 238-2100 for a free consultation or to schedule an appointment at our local office. We are happy to discuss your case and answer all of your questions.

To read more about this case, access the following article: Woman killed, man injured after being hit by SUV in Toms River

William Proetta

With more than a decade of experience defending clients against criminal charges, founding partner William A. Proetta has successfully handled and tried thousands of cases, from DWI to murder. As a New Jersey native, he has focused his career on helping people in the area where he grew up, serving Middlesex, Ocean, Hudson, and Union counties.