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South Brunswick man who drove drunk with children in car sentenced to 11 years in prison for charges related to serious crash in North Brunswick

A man has been sentenced to 11 years in jail for his role in causing a serious crash that left multiple people injured last year.

Christopher L. Mertens, 42, of the Monmouth Junction section of South Brunswick, was driving while intoxicated around 8:50 p.m. Aug. 8, 2020, according to an investigation by Patrolman Jason Zier of the North Brunswick Police Department and Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The investigation determined Mertens, accompanied by his two young children, was traveling southbound on Route 1 at a high speed when he rear-ended a 2003 Chevrolet Blazer, causing it to roll over and catch on fire, according to a statement released by Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Joseph Battaglia of the North Brunswick Police Department.

The driver of the Blazer, a 19-year-old man, sustained burn injuries and was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment. The sole passenger of the Blazer, a 21-year-old woman, along with Mertens’ children, were also transported from the scene for medical treatment, according to the statement.

On Aug. 9, 2020, Mertens was charged with second-degree aggravated assault, second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, third-degree assault by auto, third-degree endangering another person by knowingly engaging in conduct which creates a substantial risk of death, three counts of fourth-degree assault by auto, and fourth-degree obstruction, according to the statement.

On Oct. 27, 2021, following sentencing arguments from Assistant Prosecutor Keith Abrams and Assistant Prosecutor Kaitlyn Poggi, Judge Craig Corson sentenced Mertens to 11 years in state prison on one count of second-degree aggravated assault, two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, one count of third-degree aggravated assault, and one count of fourth-degree causing serious bodily injury, according to the statement.

Mertens must serve 85% of his sentence, approximately 9-and-a-half years, before he is eligible for parole. Upon his release, Mertens will be subject to an eight-year loss of license.

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