A woman has been charged with various offenses for her involvement in a vehicle collision that occurred on Thanksgiving in North Brunswick, where two young cousins sustained fatal injuries and two police officers were injured.
According to the preliminary investigation, the fatal incident occurred on Nov. 25 at 11:53 p.m. at the southbound lane of Route 130 near the on-ramp to Route 1.
A Honda Accord operated by Yokauri Batista-Alcantara, 31, of New Brunswick, was driving on the wrong side of the highway, and contained two children.
The second vehicle was a marked Old Bridge Police Department vehicle driven by an Old Bridge police officer, and which contained a second Old Bridge police officer and a civilian, according to information provided by the Office of Acting New Jersey Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck.
An initial investigation by Detective Jonathan Berman of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office determined the two police officers were transporting the in-custody passenger to the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center in North Brunswick on Route 130 south when Batista-Alcantara drove the wrong way down the on-ramp and struck the police vehicle, according to the statement from the prosecutor’s office.
Batista-Alcantara and the juveniles were transported from the scene to a nearby hospital where the juveniles were pronounced dead, according to the statement.
“It is with a heavy heart that I am informing you of the loss of one of our Hillcrest
students, Zion Barnes, a fourth grade student, and his cousin, a student who attends
school in another district,” Principal Albert J. Fico of Hillcrest School in Somerset wrote in a message to the community. “Our prayers and deepest sympathy goes out to the families of both children. Today, the district Student Assistance counselors and our guidance staff met with students in the fourth grade to provide them with support. Counseling and support
will be available to all of our students for as long as it is needed.”
The other child had not yet been identified as of press time, but was mentioned in a social media post as NuNu.
The officers and the passenger were transported to a nearby hospital where they were treated for their injuries.
“The police officers involved are on the road to recovery and we are especially grateful that at some point in the future, they will be able to serve their Old Bridge community again,” Vinny Galgano, president of Old Bridge PBA Local 127, said in a social media post on Nov. 28, thanking supporters for their outpouring of support over the days following the accident.
Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Chief Joseph Battaglia of the North Brunswick Township Police Department announced on Nov. 30 that Batista-Alcantara has been charged in connection to the deaths of the two nine-year-old children.
On Nov. 26, Batista-Alcantara was charged with two counts of first-degree aggravated manslaughter, two counts of second-degree vehicular homicide, two counts of second-degree endangering the welfare of a child, two counts of aggravated assault, and one
count of fourth-degree assault by auto.
At this time, reckless driving and alcohol consumption are believed to be contributing
factors, according to the statement from the prosecutor’s office.
Batista-Alcantara is presently lodged at the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center where she is being held pending a pre-trial detention hearing in Superior Court.
The investigation is active and continuing. Anyone with information or video footage of the area should call Berman at 732-745-4328.
This investigation was being conducted pursuant to Attorney General Directive 2019-4, which implements the statutory requirement that the Attorney General’s Office conduct the investigation of any death that occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody, and which establishes clear standards and procedures for conducting such investigations. Per Section II.H.3 of the Directive, the investigation will be bifurcated, with the AG’s Office investigating the conduct of the officers involved in the collision, and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office investigating the conduct of any other parties that may be responsible.