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Freehold resident killed in crash that followed police pursuit in Marlboro

A male resident of Somerset has been charged in connection with a Nov. 9 fatal motor vehicle crash that claimed the life of a Freehold resident, Middlesex County Prosecutor Yolanda Ciccone and Old Bridge Acting Police Chief Donald F. Fritz Jr. announced on Nov. 10.

Samuel Villar, 19, has been charged with one count of first degree aggravated manslaughter, four counts of second degree aggravated assault, one count of second degree eluding police, one count of second degree employing a juvenile (in the commission of a crime) and one count of third degree theft, according to a press release from the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office.

The Old Bridge Police Department responded to a motor vehicle crash that occurred near the intersection of Spring Valley Road and Route 9 south in Old Bridge at 2:14 a.m. Nov. 9.

As a result of the crash, Arturo Tlapa Luna, 33, of Freehold, was pronounced dead at the scene. Members of Luna’s family who were in the vehicle were transported to a hospital for treatment of their injuries, according to the press release.

Following an investigation by the Old Bridge Police Department, the Marlboro Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, it was determined the vehicle that caused the fatal crash had been stolen in New Brunswick on Oct. 23.

Authorities said the stolen vehicle was used to travel to Marlboro in the early morning hours of Nov. 9 and that the occupants of the vehicle were allegedly attempting to burglarize cars. Residents observed the suspects and notified police.

Marlboro police responded to the calls for assistance and an officer initiated a pursuit of the suspects’ vehicle. A portion of Spring Valley Road is in Marlboro. The road intersects Route 9 at the border of Marlboro and Old Bridge, which is where the fatal crash occurred.

Following his arrest, Villar was placed in the Middlesex County Adult Correction Center, North Brunswick, pending a detention hearing in state Superior Court, according to the press release.

Authorities said a 17-year-old male was taken into custody and charged with an act of juvenile delinquency for offenses which if committed by an adult would constitute as one count of third degree burglary, one count of fourth degree joyriding and one count of third degree conspiracy to commit burglary, according to the press release.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office issued a press release and said it is investigating the incident in accordance with a 2019 state law that requires the office to conduct investigations of a person’s death when that death occurs during an encounter with a law enforcement officer acting in the officer’s official capacity or while the decedent is in custody.

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